As a boy, I looked up to my grandfather. I had to – he stood nearly 6’ 5”. He was nimble, too. Tales of his contortions fascinated me. I remember as a six-year-old sitting, tugging and pulling one leg proudly around my neck. Pawpaw, as a young man, could tuck both feet behind each ear, wiggle his toes and act as if the feat was nothing at all.
Pawpaw’s career began as a pole climber for the local electric power and ice company. With his pole spurs attached, he shimmied up the wood poles with ease, earning a reputation of being one of the best in his line crew.
Later, he managed a bucket truck and supervised a crew. The massive vehicle hoisted him high in the sky. Using levers attached to the inside of the bucket, he could position himself safely between power line poles. Even in storms with fierce winds, he and his men tackled the formidable task of restoring customers’ electricity.
He was a bowler. I have a trophy on a shelf in my office that he received for participating in the Civic and Service League the year I was born.
I have fond memories of going fishing with Pawpaw. Sitting together in his greenmetal, flat-bottom boat, he trolled amongst the decaying tree stumps of Lake Iatt. It seemed he knew exactly where the beds of bream waited as he cast his line beneath the cypress tree boughs yielding one fish after another.
Using my small Zebco rod and reel, I would attempt to cast my line as effortlessly as he did. It never yielded the same reward, but he encouraged me to keep trying.
Back at the one-room fish camp he built along the bank of this man-made lake in central Louisiana, he fried the day’s catch in a black skillet and served the fish with raw sliced onion and mounds of ketchup flavored with hot sauce.
We settled on cots beneath old blankets at the end of day. I would lay there recalling everything we did together, feeling content and being in awe of my grandfather.
My grandfather set a high standard of behavior. He was a leader in his community, and when the need arose, he led his family to join others in his neighborhood to organize a Baptist church and was one of the congregation’s first deacons.
Being around a person you admire causes you to aspire to lofty heights.
Jesus called men who were fishers to aspire for more, to use their energies to become fishers of men. Peter and Andrew were good at what they did. They were skilled with their nets and could navigate their boat as well as any of the other fishermen. But Jesus inspired them to be more.
Jesus was approached by a woman getting her day’s water from the community’s well. He told her there was water she could drink and never thirst again. He knew the life she had lived left her wanting and thirsting for more. Jesus assured her that she could rise up to new life.
Jesus calls us all to look up on the cross and see the life given, for while we were enemies of God, He died for us. We see His act of love and conviction falls on us. But instead of being beaten down, He calls us to rise up and be imitators of God, as beloved children. In Jesus, we can aspire to heavenly heights.
Recently, I was asked how I would like to be remembered. I told the person about my Pawpaw and said that I hope my grandchildren will be inspired by my example like he inspired me. I hope they will remember that I believed in them, just like my grandfather believed in me.