I think there’s something special about being a grandchild. Talk to most parents and they will tell you that grandma and grandpa are not the same people with their grandchildren as they were with them. As a grandchild, I think we (in some ways) get a clearer picture of our grandparents. Or at least, the people they want to be. We have the luxury of only the secondary effects of their sin and the primary effects of their love. In other words, we get to reap what our parents have sewn.
I lost a beloved grandpa last week and it has brought with it not only a myriad of emotions, but a myriad of observations. I do not grieve in the same way my parent is. And the simplest explanation I can come up with is that though we both experienced the same man, I think I got to experience the man he wanted most to be.
Throughout my childhood, my grandpa owned and operated a bakery. What had started as a commercial bakery supplying local stores and restaurants had turned into a local bakery and deli when I was in elementary school. Because my father worked long hours in a factory and was not readily available to pick up sick children from school or take the many days off for school vacations, I got to spend a lot of time amidst the flour and sugar at Sugar & Spice Bakery and Deli. I distinctly recall being picked up from the nurses office to spend a few afternoons curled up on a sack of flour in the office. Which is not nearly as comfortable as one would think. But I’ll also never forget the warm smells of the bakery and the comfort they still bring.
My grandpa was magic. Little girls could sit, mesmerized, as the men poured sweet waterfalls of sugar into giant bowls with giant paddles and hooks, creating giant batches of all things carbs. And as the machines whirred, and the ovens spun, small girls could sometimes crack dozens of eggs with no grown up (visibly) hovering looking for wayward shells. They could watch, in awe, as grandpa, all in white, with asbestos hands and sweaty face, would reach into the oven with a large wooden paddle attached to a long handle and deftly deliver delicious treats to waiting counters. Then, that same strong grandpa would take tiny little tools, spun between thumb and forefinger and create beautiful, delicate roses right before their eyes. And they would sit and wonder as grandpa laughed and chatted while casually assembling giant white wedding cakes. Finally, when little girls could not stop running and had cracked all the eggs and drawn all the pictures and were done watching the creations of other people, grandpa would pull out his magic book.
Hidden somewhere in the bowels of the bakery, covered in flour and bits of dried dough, was a book that turned little girls into little creators. And in the hands of grandpa, they could turn lumps of cold, wet dough into golden, magical, edible turtles and alligators. Complete with raisin eyes, the girls would bring them home and dad would have to stealthily throw them away once they got moldy. Because the creations were too beautiful for little girls to eat. And eventually, those girls would go on to make their own magical, edible creations for their own families. They would find the smell of baking bread, cookies and cakes to be the smell of love and help their own littles become little creators. Maybe not of bready turtles and alligators though, because they don’t have the magic book.
Grandpa had lots of little girls at home too. He was blessed with an abundance of girl grand babies, who would spend hours riding down carpeted staircases (getting covered in rug burns) in his house and doing their very best to drive grandparents crazy. One of those staircases led to a magic room. What was once an old maid’s quarters with its own steep, dark stairway, led to a private bedroom that must have gotten the best light. Because in it was a magic picture. Grandpa didn’t just create with carbs. It turns out he created with paints too and on an easel in the middle of the room stood a picture little girls didn’t then understand. But one would come to find out it was a picture of the most magical thing grandpa ever showed her.
It was a picture of Jesus, complete with crown of thorns. And when this girl was much older I would realize that grandpa really did know all the magical things. He knew the Creator that helped him create. The magic of a Savior that redeems. The Love that overflows like sugar into spicy little girls.
So, my last observation. What if we remembered everyone like grandkids? What if we chose to see their sin as secondary to us and their love as primary? What if, we remembered them like that while they were still here? Today, please take a moment to reevaluate a relationship and put it in the hands of the Redeemer. Reach out and ask them to break bread together. In memory of a lovely baker.
Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world." John 6:32-33
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12