Today’s post is an actual letter to my (as-yet unborn but already dearly loved) grandson, David Henry. David currently resides in Moodus, Connecticut… or wherever his mama, Naomi, happens to be at the moment. He is expected to make his debut in mid-October.
Dear David Henry: Today is your great-grandfather’s birthday. He’s 83. I thought you’d like to hear about it because you’re named for him (along with your dad’s grandpa, Henry).
We had a quiet gathering last night in Sarasota. Yes, that’s right, you have great-grandparents living in the Sunshine State. I know it sounds cliché, but – believe me – your great-grandfather David (G-G/F-D) is anything but cliché.
There are a couple of highlights from last night I’d like you to know about. This is not just history, David Henry, it’s already a part of who you are.
I know you haven’t had any math yet, but in order to be 83 today, G-G/F-D had to have been born in 1928. G-G/M-G (that’s your great-grandmother Grace) asked him a few questions about the years he spent living with foster-families in the north of England during the first three years of World War Two. You see, he was one of those children who were “evacuated” because of the bombs and the threat of invasion.
G-G/F-D talked about the four homes he lived in – The Greens, the Browns, the Whites and the Wrights (a doctor, a miner, the landlord of a pub and an Army family. G-G/F-D said he had to share a bed designed for one, and that he was hungry all the time – “But it didn’t mean they didn’t feed me,” he said, “It’s just that I was eleven years old!”
He did things like play cricket, attend a small mission chapel down the street, and go to the movie-house to watch the huge organ literally rise up from the floor when the organist played during the intermission (and he only got to go to the movies because his parents weren’t there to stop him!).
David Henry, I hope you get to spend a lot of time listening to G-G/F-D’s stories. And, don’t forget this, G-G/M-G has some pretty wild ones too. These stories are a deep part of who you are.
Talking of who you are, that’s the other thing I want to share from G-G/F-D’s 83rd birthday party. We sang around the piano. This may sound like a small thing; but, believe me, it is huge.
G-G/F-D picked two of his favorite hymns. We sang “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind…” and “I thank thee Lord that thou hast made the earth so bright….” Both of them have six verses and the second one – BTW – was part of the service the day I married your grandmamma Rebekah.
But here’s what I’m getting at – and it’s more evidence that I am becoming a sentimental, tender-hearted old-dude!
- I heard my dad’s voice – your G-G/F-D – and so I looked over at him and my eyes just filled up. I saw how he was singing without even looking at the hymn book (all twelve verses if you count both songs), and I saw how full his heart is with faith and love and the peace that comes from knowing the Lord he was singing about, and I understood how fortunate you are, David Henry, to be born into a family defined by such faithfulness and commitment…
Listen closely, David Henry. Do everything in your power to make sure such a story becomes more than a cherished memory, or a piece of nostalgia, or a quaint entry in the family history. Such a faith must be experienced, and owned, and sought out, and practiced, and crafted into the character of what it means to be David Henry Campbell of Connecticut. Bottom line, dear grandson, it has to become your very own.
So I am – at this moment – praying for your amazing parents, Naomi and Craig. I pray that they, too, cherish the hope and joy and great love that comes from establishing a deliberately Christian home.
Your G-G/D-B (great-granddaddy Bob) spoke the following benediction over your Mama and Daddy, Naomi and Craig, just a short while before he passed away. He was not feeling at all well that day, but he mustered his strength and called them back as they were saying good-bye. He spoke clearly and he spoke from his heart:
“‘The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26)