Sunday, June 15, 2008

“Thank You, God, for ‘Pa Bill’”: Father’s Day 2008

Today was Father’s Day and, as this day comes to a close, I want to pay tribute to the man who was “father” to me: my great-grandfather, William Gray—or “Pa Bill”, as all of us grandchildren and great-grandchildren called him. Pa Bill was actually my maternal grandfather’s step-father; he had no children of his own. So, for all practical purposes, from the time he and “Grandma” agreed to take me in when I was two-months old, I was Pa Bill’s son.

I would have to write a book to fully describe Pa Bill’s significance in my life. Until the end of his life, Pa Bill was my greatest supporter, and was a true father to me. For one thing, Pa Bill was present and involved in my life. He attended every piano recital I performed in, every concert and every graduation (junior high, high school and college). He took me to Sunday School and church (and was in attendance, himself), and was present both when I joined the church and when I was baptized. Although terminally ill with cancer, Pa Bill was also there when I preached my first sermon. For every major event in my life, until he died, Pa Bill was there.

Pa Bill taught me so many things: how to ride a bike; how to use a hammer, saw, planer, level, sandpaper, wrench, screwdriver; how to paint, how to smooth cement, how to cut grass and shovel snow, how to start a car, how to check the oil and un-stick a carburetor—I could literally go on and on. Ironically, Pa Bill also helped me learn how to read. Ironically, I say, because he could barely read, himself.

Although Pa Bill held no position of significance in the eyes of the world, he meant a whole lot to me. He was God-fearing, law-abiding, hard-working, dependable and honest—a real man a boy like me could look up to.

Pa Bill died almost 19 years ago, but his influence lingers on in my life. I hope and pray I can have the same lasting influence for good in my sons’ lives that Pa Bill has had in mine.

I thank God for giving Pa Bill to me.

“The glory of children is their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6b).

1 comment:

B. Moos said...

I get so caught up in FB that I forget your blog here. This is a wonderful tribute. I know that Pa Bill was my support as well. Although I didn't find out he was my "step-grandfather" until I was around 10, he supported me at every recital, concert, graduation (no so many), and nearly everything I was involved in. We had arguments, I cried, but I know he did the best he could. I remember that on the Friday nights when my mother would wash clothes in the "old house" and gramdma was downstair doing hair, Pa Bill was upstairs with me fixing egg sandwiches (with ketchup) and having me play the piano while he sung. He took me almost everywhere he went in the 55 Chevy and a few times in the old Dodge he had for work. I remember he would just take the Chevy out for Sundays and after dinner sometimes he would want to go on a ride. A "ride" just meant that, riding around. He would come and ask my mother if I could go and she would usually say "yes". He would let me ask a friend and Anita Woods would go with us sometimes. Pa Bill was a great influence in my life too. I miss him and his "back seat driving", which he never stopped when he was in the car with me :}