One of my favorite shirts is an old faded blue chambray. It’s comfortable. It fits just right. And it’s always there.
I love this shirt for its comfort but recently I may have discovered another reason why I cherish it. One evening last week I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and for the briefest of moments, I saw my grandfather in the reflection.
Tall, lean, a bit weathered by age, gray-haired, and standing straight as an arrow. I looked again but he was gone. Still the physical resemblance remains. I’m tall. I’m lean (although it’s a challenge at times to remain so). My hair is gray. But I could never have his hands. Those hands, so strong, so leathery, so molded by a lifetime of work and love and prayer.
My grandpa was a produce farmer. He spent his life working the fields of his farm and hauling his produce to market. It was rare to visit Grandma and Grandpa and not encounter a houseful of people. He had 13 children, 39 grandchildren and our son Blake Anthony, who was born a few months after his death, would have been his 50th great-grandchild and bears his name.
What I remember most about my Grandpa Tony is the way he reigned over the assembly gathered at his home. Sitting in his chair, his dog at his side, he was a true patriarch. When I was a child he seemed to be larger than life. And it was always a special treat to be pulled up onto his lap. With 38 other grandkids vying for that place of honor, those times were all the more precious. Grandpa especially loved the babies and I can vividly remember him holding my cousins Ron and Laura and my baby sister Kay. More often than not, he would be wearing that old faded blue chambray shirt.
As I grew older I had the joy of bringing my wife and children to visit Grandpa. When we would leave he always had the same send off: “Hurry back, I may not be here the next time you come.” Always standing straight and tall. Always wearing a blue chambray shirt. Always waving goodbye until we were out of sight.
Of course the time came when he wasn’t there. His 93 years didn’t seem long enough for those of us who loved him. But memories can last a lifetime. Particularly when they’re a little faded, comfortable and fit just right.