On Saturday, April 21, 2012, my grandfather passed away. His name was J. Walter Hackman. He was an entrepreneur, salesman, church planter, prison missionary, theologian, camper, cook, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend.
I was the youngest grandson, and because of this, I do not have as cherished memories as I could have had, simply because I was too young to remember. But I do remember some things.
One night, I slept over at grammy and grandpop’s house in allentown. I remember watching the classic “herby” movie with both of them and laughing together at whatever that comedic automobile was up to. I also remember the snacks offered to me: triscuits, pretzels, a diet coke, and if I was lucky…. Cantaloupe and vanilla bean ice cream. After the movie was over, I remember sitting together and having a devotional just before bed. This happened another time when I was older and slept over at Grammy and Grandpop’s apartment at Souderton Mennonite Homes.
Looking back at this, I really think that the devotionals that they would have every night was a great way to spend time with your loved ones. I hope that someday I am as blessed as they were to be able to do the same with my wife, and possibly our children if and when they come along. Obviously, I have a long ways to go until either of those things become a reality, but it is something good to aspire towards. To be able to discuss things with your wife and children about what you just read is something that must grow the family closer together in so many ways.
I also remember Grandpop grilling quarter pound hotdogs, burgers, steaks, and sausages on the grill. He loved to grill, and we were all aware of this. The evidence was in the excellent taste in the meat which we ate, which experience could only make his skills all the more better. I too have a love for cooking; my family can attest that I always have, although I may not have always made the best meal choices. Today I can pan-sear chicken, cook pasta, make Alfredo and red pasta sauce from scratch, add ingredients to any type of “cream of..whatever” soup to make it taste great, and I can make many other concoctions on the whim, with no recipe. Maybe its just in the genes.
Grandpop also loved to sing, and he also loved to hear people play musical instruments and sing as well. As soon as my grandparents found out that I could sing in an operatic style(I was classically trained in high school), my grandmother would attempt to draft me multiple times to sing a song(or two) at family gatherings, and at the retirement home. I was always reluctant to accept because singing classically makes me nervous, especially if it is not at some sort of a recital or something, but grammy won out quite a few times anyway. The last time was when I sang at the retirement home because Grammy wanted me to sing for Grandpop because, to be blunt, we didn’t know how much longer he had left, and what my schedule would look like later on. I sang “O Holy Night”, which I also sang at the family Christmas dinner. And I am so glad that I did sing it.
The day after my Grandfather’s death, the family had to meet to discuss the details of the funeral. It was a sad time for me because it only proved to sink in the fact that my beloved Grandpop is no longer living on earth. My grandmother, in front of the family present, turned to me and asked if I could sing “It Is Well” as a solo at the funeral. As soon as the question was uttered, I already knew my response, but I said that I would think about it to be polite in front of the family. When it came up later in the discussion, I just came right out and said that I couldn’t do it. This broke my heart. I looked over to my mom as she was mouthing the words, “It’s okay” to me, but in my mind all I could think of is how disappointed I must have made Grammy. After I said no, Grammy offered that I could just lead the hymn in congregational singing…but I could not even take up that offer. The hymn “It is well” was one of my late Grandpop Bauman’s favorite Hymns, and it still makes me cry on occasion. To have to sing that in front of a congregation that has gathered in memory of my Grandpop would absolutely break me before I would get past the first verse. It was a terrible experience to say “no”, but it may have been worse if I would have said “yes”.
My Grandfather was a great man who stood by his principles, who was willing to listen, who was a model on how to love your wife, children and extended family, and who always seemed to have a witty saying.
One of these sayings was this: “Service is the rent we pay for our stay here on earth”.
Well Grandpop, you paid above and beyond what was owed, its time to collect on your investments.