This post is a little bit late seeing as Thanksgiving has come and gone, but gratitude shouldn’t be limited to just one day, right?

This year, I especially am thankful for the 26 wonderful years I had with my grandfather. He passed away on Wednesday. At 26, he is my first grandparent to pass away which is a rare blessing indeed.Granddad was born in 1922 and grew up in the midst of the Great Depression. Like his father before him, he made his living farming. Corn, cotton and peanuts were the staples of the tidewater Virginia area. Along with these crops, he and my grandmother raised hogs (bona fide Smithfield ham). When he wasn’t tending to the farm, he enjoyed hunting and singing in his church’s choir.

Granddad was a rare soul in that he knew what truly mattered in life. Maybe his wisdom came from growing up in the Depression era. Maybe the scar from the Copperhead bite he sustained when he was only six served as a daily reminder of life’s fragility. Or maybe his wisdom was simply a byproduct of his faith.

Regardless, he knew the value of hard work and the importance of a day of rest. He wasn’t ruled by a love of money or power or fame. He was content with his lot in life. He loved his family and was an integral part of his church and community. He laughed a lot and was incredibly generous.

On the surface, our lives appear to be worlds apart. His whole world for the better part of his life was contained within a 25 mile radius. He and my grandmother farmed the same land from the time they married in 1943 until they retired in 1987 and they continued to live in the farmhouse until 2011 when they moved in with my aunt. As for me, in the past 5 years I have lived in South Carolina, China, Delaware, Manhattan, & Brooklyn and have traveled to Cambodia, Peru, and Iceland and countless states. I’m sure my restless ways gave him a good chuckle.

While I know he wouldn’t have moved to New York for all the tea in China, I also know he was immensely proud of me. He was forever introducing me, with an air of wonder in his voice, as his granddaughter who’d lived in China or who lived in New York City. He never passed up an opportunity to brag about us all. His love for his wife, his children and his grandchildren (and great-grandchildren!) was limitless.

Just as he was proud of me, I am proud to call him my grandfather. I am proud to bear his name (we share the middle name “Thomas”). I hope that we share more than just a middle name. I hope that my life mirrors his in the areas where it matters most: faith, wisdom, values, integrity, generosity.

Rest in peace, Granddaddy. You will be missed.



26 November 2012. Faith Hope Love.


  1. Aunt Jeanette replied:

    Wonderful tribute!

  2. Aunt Billie replied:

    I loved it and all the photos. He had good reason to be proud of you.
    Love Aunt Billie

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