A Father’s Day Tribute to my Grandfather

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He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. —Micah 6:8

I’ve been blessed with loving men in my life—my husband, my brother, my 91-year-old father, and both of my grandfathers. As I contemplate Father’s Day this Sunday, I could write about any of them.

But my paternal grandfather has been on my mind a lot lately… He was a simple man from a Swiss immigrant family. His last year of school was the eighth grade. After that he worked as a farmhand. Twelve-hours a day, six days a week. The money he earned went to his parents.

He wandered away from the Lord as an adolescent, but then as a young adult he came back. And never left. I remember his prayers throughout my childhood. He spoke to the Lord in such a way that it felt as if God was in the room with us—and of course God was.

At his 90th birthday party he talked about how, when my father was a foot soldier in Europe during World War II, he’d prayed everyday for his son’s safety. And that his son wouldn’t have to kill anyone. What a merciful prayer. Dad certainly fired on the enemy but all at a distance. He never had to engage in face-to-face combat.

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Emil Egger, my grandfather, as a young man with his team of horses.

I know my grandfather wasn’t perfect. He, like all of us, learned on the go as he parented his children. He went through difficult times, including supporting his family during the Great Depression. He worked as a laborer and a logger—hard, hard jobs in challenging environments.

But by the time I knew him he was well tempered and seemed perfect. In fact, when I envisioned God as a child, I thought of my grandfather.

One time when my grandparents were visiting, when I was about nine, I sassed my mom. I felt bad about it, but what made really cringe was that my kind and gentle grandfather witnessed my bad behavior. I apologized to my mother and then went and sat by Grandpa on the front steps and told him I was sorry too.

“That’s all right,” he said, putting his arm around me. That was all. No patronizing words. No condemnation. Just pure acceptance.

When I write about the Amish I often think about Grandpa—the shared Swiss heritage, the hard work, and the simple life that was well lived.

When I read Micah 6:8, I also think of him. Humble, merciful, and just—that was the grandfather I knew.

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Leslie Gould (23 Posts)

Leslie Gould is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the #1 bestseller and Christy Award winner "The Amish Midwife", co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. Her latest release is "Adoring Addie", a retelling of the “Romeo and Juliet,” the second in The Courtships of Lancaster County series. Leslie, her husband, Peter, and their four children live in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at www.lesliegould.com. Leslie received her master of fine arts in creative writing from Portland State University in 2009 and has taught fiction as an adjunct professor at Multnomah University. She, her husband, Peter, and their four children live in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at www.lesliegould.com.


Comments

  1. What a sweet tribute!

  2. I’m getting ready to write my own NQA post today about peace in daily living. Your grandpa story reminds me of that Swiss heritage we share (I’m Mennonite from Pennsylvania). Quiet, gentle, and hardworking. I felt tears well up when you described your grandfather’s prayer that your father would not need to kill anyone in war.

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