“Now choose life . . .” – Deuteronomy 30:19
In his newly purchased sporty little car, my wife’s grandfather, Cecil Dye, set out on a rural highway for a test drive – or more to the point – to see how fast it would go; that is, until he topped a hill at just about max speed where a highway patrol car sat just waiting for him. After receiving his speeding ticket Cecil looked up at the cop and asked in a smirky tone, “which direction are you headed from here?” When the cop pointed in one direction Cecil nodded in the other, “then I’m going that way.” It was Cecil’s clever way of getting the last lick in, or thinking he did at least, but I doubt it; for I have always pictured that cop walking back to his patrol car shaking his head with a big grin on his face, knowing full well Cecil was not done testing out his new sporty car.
Celebrating our fifty-first wedding anniversary over weekend reminded me of the many unexpected (and undeserved) bonuses that had come with the package of getting to spend my life with the love of my life. Among them was Tee’s grandfather Cecil Dye who for twenty-five years was like a grandfather to me, filling a void I had felt in my life from the loss of my own grandfathers when I was a young child.
Cecil could hardly be described as the stereotypical rocking-chair-type grandfather; rather, he was the kind of grandfather who would buy a hot sporty car and take it out on a rural highway for a test spin at top speed, fearless of any cops who might be hiding over the top of a hill. Notwithstanding such devilishness, he was anything but an outlaw, in fact quite to the contrary. Cecil Dye was one of the most upright, moral, honest men I have ever known, smart, hard-working, and dedicated to family and community. Though not a particularly religious man, at least not in a churchy kind of way, his best fishing buddy, who happened to be a local minister, insisted he had a deeper faith than his own.
Over our years together Cecil taught me many things, but most notably was his contagious zest for life like few people I have ever met. I would like to think a little of that rubbed off, not just on me but on our whole family. “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live,” he would likely advise if he could speak to us today, for that is what he did. He chose life, even as he passed on to the next one, at age ninety-five.