Leonard J. Pate
- Also known as "Len" to my grandmother...one of the best granddaddy's to ever walk this earth. Well, in my opinion. I'm sure my daughter will argue that down the road...since she'll think her's is THE best!
Today, April 2nd, marks the 6th year since my precious granddaddy went to be with the Lord. In some ways, I can hardly believe it's been that long. But, in most ways, it feels like it's been forever. He was such a constant part of my life. He was so loving and steady. I miss him terribly.
So many words come to mind though when I try to describe him to someone. When anyone met him, they knew so much about him within about 3 minutes of first speaking. That is all it took was the first introduction and he knew you. And you certainly knew him.
Everytime I would go to their house, before I could sit down, he would drag me to the backyard or the garage to show me his new tools or his new toys that he found at a yard sale. You see, he was a Master Yard Saler!! I mean it too!! He would find absolute junk at them and come home and fix them up or repair whatever appliances he could find. Then, hold one of his regularly scheduled Friday & Saturday yard sales and sell it (no longer junk) for much more. A lot of folks knew him for his yard salin' skills too.
He was so caring and had so many wonderful characeristics about him. After I got married, I can remember waking up on more than one occasion to look outside and see my sweet granddaddy in my front yard pulling weeds or fixing my mailbox. Then, when I was sick, he'd come over with his famous cornbread, rutabegas & peas or any other comfort food in a plastic bag and ring the doorbell. By the time I opened the door, he was back at his car in the driveway waving. He wasn't gonna hang around long enough to catch it.
Other times, he didn't even care if he caught it. My dad was a long distance truck driver and he was on the road each week. So my mom was extremely sick one time when I was a teenager and I had to take her to the hospital in the middle of the night. I called and told him that we were going and to pray. Not long after we arrived, I heard the squeaking of his leather jacket and the clanking of his keys on his keychain coming down the hall. He came in and sat with us until we left. I didn't have to be scared anymore.
I miss so much about him - can you tell? But, it's amazing the little things that you never forget about someone you love. Those things that make it so real and so special.
He never left his house - and I mean never! - without Juicy Fruit chewing gum and hard cinnamon candies in his front shirt pocket.
He bought a new used car every several months it seemed like. Really...I don't know the ending number, but he had tons of cars in his life. He would take a picture of each one and he had a photo album with most of them in it. Then, next thing you know, it would be sitting on the front lawn with a For Sale sign on it. In any of those cars, he would pick me up from school or take me somewhere and we'd drive the whole ride with the blinker on. It would drive me crazy, but I wouldn't say a thing.
Oh but he didn't drive like an old man in other ways. He certainly didn't poke. And when I was learning to drive, I was on a busy highway in the left lane. I was trying to change lanes and was scared and some lady came flying by us hanging her head out the window and showing me a not-so-nice finger. I remember him telling me I was gonna have to learn to keep up and not be scared. Believe me, I am not scared now. :o)
He cared for my grandmother with a dying passion! I don't know how else to describe it. He lived for her. The year he died, they would have celebrated their 56th anniversary. It was amazing after that many years how in love they were; how much affection they still showed; how they still called each other "Baby" and lit up around one another. It was horrible losing him, but the Lord knows what He is doing. We all said that he couldn't have lived one day on this earth without her. He spoiled her a€nd wouldn't have had it any other way. He's certainly helping Jesus prepare her mansion.
My granddaddy was a hard man in his earlier days I've heard. But, all I ever knew was a softie. He would cry at the drop of a hat. But, he could make you laugh until your belly hurt. He would dance and tell jokes and come up with silly nicknames for my friends. He's probably already given Moses a nickname.
He couldn't sing a lick and all my life, there was an ongoing joke at church about him joining the choir. I'll bet he has a beautiful voice now!! He is singing with the angels.
He was so faithful to our church though. He loved the Lord and served Him with every breath he had in him. He wasn't afraid to tell anyone about the love of Jesus and invite them to church. A lot of people are still there today because he was the first person they met when they visited and he made them feel at home. I'll assume he's a greeter in Heaven.
We have a road behind our church that leads from the front parking lot to the back and it has a street sign that says, "Pate Drive" after my granddaddy. It's a nice reminder of him everytime I drive on it.
But today, on this 6th anniversary of his reunion with Jesus...it's been so comforting to be able to recap some of the special things about him. I could keep you here reading for the remainder of the day. But, I won't. I do thank you though if you are still here. I know he wasn't your "Len" and most of you never knew him.
But, he was our "Len." He was mine.
And the thoughts of you, granddaddy, are just another reminder of what a blessed life I've been given. I can't wait to spend eternity with you. I miss you and I love you so much!
Oh - save a piece of Juicy Fruit for me.