My first real memory of Charles was at my husband's 16th birthday party. I only remember that he was very nice to me--I was too nervous about meeting Gary's parents to remember much else!
Little did I know that in the next 36 years I'd spend more time with this man than with my own father! (Because of my father being a missionary and living in another state.) He became a very real and wonderful part of my life.
I could divide our lives with Charles into "before salvation" and "after salvation". They were like night and day. Although he was a wonderful father-in-law and a fine man before his salvation, after he was saved he became so precious to me as my second dad.
I remember Gary inviting him over for me to cook him a "real southern meal" during the early years of our marriage. (Remember, I'm from the north originally!) I was a nervous wreck. He seemed very happy with my pinto beans, fried potatoes, and corn bread. He did let me know the beans could have cooked a little longer! :)
He was delighted with each grandchild's birth and always came to see me after they were born. He loved his grandchildren and was very, very proud of them.
When Charles was 50 years old he gave us the greatest gift a man can give his family--he trusted Christ as his Savior in July of that year. What a change!
After his salvation, he and AllaDean spent Sundays with us till he moved to Tennessee. He retired two weeks after his salvation and moved to his home state. What memories our children (and Gary and I too) have of visiting him at his cabin he was building! Niki has posted a picture (on Facebook) of the kids riding on the lawnmower with their grandpa on one of those visits.
We made a trip down there to make sure he found a good church so he would get grounded and grow. We watched with joy as he threw away the old life and grew by leaps and bounds in his new-found faith. Our children would spend at least a week or two each summer with Grandpa Charles and Grandma AllaDean. Each time we came to get them they had learned something new. He and AllaDean invested their lives into our children.
Then Gary took the pastorate at the church where Charles was attending! For 8 1/2 years their lives and our lives were intertwined almost daily. What a blessing they were in our church. What a blessing they were as grandparents to our growing brood! What sweet memories we have of our days together at that pastorate.
During that time God blessed our home with Asher Obadiah. Charles hadn't been able to spend the time with our older children like he had wanted and he saw Asher as God's little extra blessing from heaven.
From the day of Asher's birth he and Asher bonded. (Grandma AllaDean was just as close a bond!) We've never been quite sure if Asher was ours or if he was half ours and half theirs! :)
Asher was his Grandpa Charles' shadow. If Grandpa was cleaning the fellowship hall he had a toddler behind him "helping". Many a time Asher's grandpa rocked him to sleep while we finished our duties at the church.
Then came the sad day our pastorate ended and we had to say good-bye to the days of daily interaction. Grandpa Charles didn't let that end his wonderful relationship with our children.
He and AllaDean moved to Jamestown and built another cabin and our children have sweet memories of campovers at Grandpa's during their college days. When the Lord gave us Cierra and John he welcomed them with open arms and was the same wonderful Grandpa he had been with the other five children. More children meant more joy to Charles--he loved having his home full of them!
He still kept an active involvement in our lives and continued living a consistent Christian life. I've only met one other person that I thought witnessed to each and every person the Lord gave them an opportunity. That other Christian is my own dad.
Grandpa was at each and every important event in our lives and the lives of our children. He was a faithful visitor when anyone was sick. When I was so sick two years ago one of the few memories I have of the first night was Charles standing at my bedside and patting my arm.
What a role model he has been for our children (and for me). What faithfulness and love he has always had for family. What a burden he has had for those who don't know the Lord or aren't where they should be with the Lord.
One of my favorite memories of Charles was pulling into their drive and seeing him sitting on the porch waiting for us. When we left he always followed us out and didn't leave the porch till we were out of sight. I'll never pull away from their house without seeing him in my mind's eye waving as we left. I wish I had a picture of it, but I've got a mental snapshop that will never leave.
Oh, dear "second" dad I'm going to miss you so. Thank you so much for loving me, being patient with me, teaching me, and being a part of my life. You'll be missed each day that we have left on this earth till we meet you in heaven.
I love his note he left in his Bible, "I'll be waiting in glory for those of you who love our Lord Jesus Christ." Till then Charles, I love you!
Your "first" daughter,