With the passing of Nelson Mandela a few hours ago, the news reports are saying the world has lost its Grandfather.
I lost my own grandfather a little over a year ago and I was asked to give a tribute at his funeral. It went like this.
WALLACE LUFF – 1919-2012
Who was Wallace Luff?
To some here today he will be remembered as “Brother”.
To others he will be remembered as “Dad”.
To many, like myself, he’ll be remembered as “Poppy Luff”.
Many of you knew him as a friend, a neighbor, an uncle, a church member, a bus driver, the man with the cabin down in Loon Bay.
To me, Wallace Luff was my Grandfather. My Pop.
Pop loved his Sunday dinners. Just before he gave up is driver’s license I remember him visiting our place for Sunday Dinner. Afterward, as we sat around letting dessert digest, he started telling us about his work experiences as a young man in Bishop Falls. No matter what his job was at the time he worked hard and did the best he could at it.
Pop had a van. He loved to travel. I got to share a trip to Ottawa with him one time. We stayed at Aunt Alva’s. Sitting around the breakfast table, Pop listened as Aunt Alva expressed her desire for a new couch. Uncle Sam said they couldn’t get a new one because they had nowhere to put the old couch. They could use it in the family room down in the basement but there was no way to get that long, 9-foot couch down the steep stairs, around the tight corners and through the narrow halls. So for now she was stuck having that big old couch in her living room. When Sam went to work, Pop turned to Alva and said, “Brad and I will move it into the basement for you.”
Sure enough, an hour later, Pop and I had that sofa solidly stuck at the bottom of the basement stairs, jammed in so tight we could hardly move it at all. I admitted defeat, “Pop, we may have to move it back upstairs.”
Unwilling to give up he said, “No, we’ll get it in there.”
I am not sure how long it took, it felt like hours of pushing, pulling, twisting, turning, jumping over, crawling under, sweating, exerting, struggling, hauling, kicking and heaving. Pop was determined to get that sofa into that room and didn’t give up. That evening when Uncle Sam came home from work he found us all downstairs in the family room sitting on that extra long sofa. That evening Aunt Alva dragged him off to the furniture store to pick out the new couch to replace the now empty spot upstairs.
She got her new couch all thanks to Pop’s determination to get the job done.
Years later, when Alva and Sam sold their home I heard that long sofa was included in the sale, mainly because no one could figure out how to get it back up out of the basement.
I once heard it said, Pop always carried some extra money in his pocket. He wanted to be ready to help should he met anyone in need.
I experienced that generosity firsthand on one occasion, traveling to the mainland for a family wedding I arrived and discovered I had forgotten to pack the shoes for my suit. It wasn’t long after that I walked into my room and found a brand new pair of shoes on my bed, he had overheard my situation, headed to the store and came back with a brand new pair of shoes just for me.
Pop never met a piece of lumber he didn’t like; scrap of wood or a piece of board waiting to be hauled off or burned. “No need to throw that away,” he would say, “I got a place where I can use that”. Many times I would see him leaving the yard with rescued lumber hanging out the window or sticking out from the trunk.
Who was my Grandfather?
From what I seen of him, he was an example.
He was a man that worked hard. Whatever his job, he did the best he could.
He was someone who never quit. Never gave up. Just because something was impossible never stopped him from trying.
He was a man who was not only willing to help someone in need, he was prepared to do so.
He was a man who saw the Potential in things. He could look beyond seeing what was and instead see what could be.
But most importantly of all, my grandfather was a man of faith.
He served his God, the creator of the universe faithfully. He trusted in his Savior, who had forgiven him all his sins. He was born again, saved, a child of God, redeemed.
Sunday before last there was a birthday celebration around his hospital bed as he turned 93 years old. Five short days later there was a victory celebration as the battle for his soul came to its final end. He was forever free as his spirit left us here on Earth to dwell in the presences of his Heavenly Father and loving Savior in Heaven above.
Last Friday morning Pop went home.
There were those there who greet him saying welcome, “Brother”.
Others there embrace him tightly saying, We missed you “Dad”.
Two boys, one taking each hand, say excitedly, “Come on Poppy, we’ll show you around!”
Friends, some recently passed on, others, gone long before, gather around to slap him on the back, shake his hand, embrace him with a hug or a kiss on the cheek.
His eyes meet with those belonging to the love of his life. The one who makes his heart skip a beat. The one who makes him smile. The young girl he walked home from a Sunday school picnic at the age of 13. The young lady he married and became his wife for nearly 70 years. The woman who knows him better then anyone else.
On Friday, October 19th, 2012, after six long, lonely years, Wallace was reunited with Viola and after they hugged and kissed, Nan probably looked at Pop and said, “Now Wallace, you put down that piece of board!”
“Your home now.”
“Your work is done!”