Have you known certain people who made an out-sized impact upon your life, for good or maybe even for not-so-good? It’s called influence, and I like remembering the legacy my Grandpa passed on to me.
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #56 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
“Bones” Davis was my maternal grandfather. I was privileged to know him for years and spent a lot of time with him when I was a kid, in part because his and Grandma’s home was a few hundred yards from our home across an open field.
His name was Lewis, but his little brother could not pronounce the name, called him “Bones,” and so he became for the next eighty years.
The irony for me was that when I knew him, he was a short but hefty, let’s say thick, fellow and I never saw a bone.
I tell you about him because he was the spiritual patriarch of our family. He had an 8th Grade education, something that embarrassed him a bit but back during the aftermath of WWI when he came of age this level of schooling was not uncommon.
Grandpa could read, and he read his Bible and organic gardening books. No one knew which flourished more, his spiritual life or his incredible gardens.
When he passed, Grandma placed a small plaque alongside him in the casket that said 38 years, a tribute to how long he had served as a deacon in the Baptist church in our small town that they and a few other couples helped start. They made this move because the other Baptist church in town had begun, as they said then, “to go liberal,” appointing pastors that did not believe or preach the whole counsel of the Word of God. It was not easy to leave friends and a church they loved, but their commitment to the truth took precedence.
I grew up in that church where along with my grandparents my mother was a charter member. So, you could say I am a direct spiritual beneficiary of my grandparents’ fidelity to the Christian faith.
Grandpa served for years as a volunteer worship leader. He had a good tenor voice. This was back in the day when people in the church fulfilled such roles as opposed to the practice now of appointing a professional staff person to serve as worship leader. Grandpa would get in the pulpit and say, “Greetings in the name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” His favorite hymn was “Saved, Saved, Saved.”
I remember dozens of people, usually but not always men, who would come from several counties around just to sit on one end of his over-sized back porch swing, looking out to that fabulous garden, as Grandpa sat on the other end, and then ask him his advice and counsel of life. I did it myself when I got into my 20s. He was funny, biblically, and therefore spiritually, knowledgeable, and wise. His counsel was worth the trip and the time.
I never once heard Grandpa raise his voice at Grandma. I remember his incredible sense of humor, some of which I’m blessed with to this day. I remember his love of biblical prophecy, singing, and sports. In his youth, he had been an accomplished baseball player, even trying out for the traveling teams that built the game into a national pastime in the 1920s. I remember his love for his family and his dog named “Pudge.”
Grandpa “Bones” Davis was a world class people watcher. I remember “going to town” when I was a kid and being left in the car with Grandpa because he didn’t like to shop. Parked along the main street, I’d want to go here or there, and he’d say, “Just watch the people. They’re interesting.”
Granpda never made catty or cutting remarks, nothing negative, just insightful things like, “Look, that boy is walking exactly like his Dad, same motions, same gait.” Or, “Those people look like they’re having a good time.” Or, “Hey, they’re eating chocolate candy. How about us getting some?” Sitting with Grandpa in that car along a well-populated street is one of my good childhood memories.
So, I learned young to watch people. Now one of my favorite activities when I’m in a mall or airport is to watch people, especially older or elderly couples. I like the feeling in South Florida when I’ve often seen 80-something couples strolling or sitting, demonstrating in a variety of ways they still value their spouse. It’s fun and offers a load of life lessons.
Grandpa would have loved malls and airports, neither one of which were part of his experience.
Grandpa left me a heritage, a legacy of profound impact. Let me give you one example.
I’m old enough to remember cigarette commercials and smoke-filled restaurants. And I’m old enough to remember when cigarette commercials disappeared and when restaurants and other public spaces first developed “non-smoking” sections and then became “smoke free.” If you aren’t old enough to remember these things, watch movies from the 1960s and earlier and witness the actors, especially the women, smoke one cigarette after another. What was cool then is not cool now.
I like the smell of some cigar or pipe smoke, but frankly, I’ve never understood the appeal of smoking. It’s a dirty—to one’s teeth and one’s breath, as well as the nearby physical space—unhealthy, expensive habit. It provides no nutritional value. It enslaves people to the need for the next smoke. It’s no longer considered suave or debonair.
Smoking is even threatening to the environment. I’ve long maintained that smokers litter more than any other person. Non-biodegradable cigarette butts clog city sewers, start forest fires, and otherwise pollute the landscape in manner that costs the public significant sums for clean-up.
From a Christian point of view, though, I cannot say categorically that smoking is a sin. I could, like many people do, make the scripturally based argument that one should not debase or destroy one’s own body, made in the image of God and for believers the temple of the Holy Spirit. And this would be correct. God commands us to care for our own bodies. But he did not say “You shall not smoke.” Then again, not everything we can do, we should do.
When I was a child of maybe six or seven, Grandpa “Bones” Davis quit smoking his pipe. He didn’t make any grand spiritual issue out of this act. He simply made the choice because he had three grandsons, of which I was one of the two oldest. Later, he eventually had thirteen grandchildren in all. He quit smoking because he did not want any of us to see him smoke and then start smoking ourselves. To my knowledge, only one grandchild ever smoked, and he quit after a time. Grandpa’s example bore good fruit and is still bearing it today.
Grandpa Bones Davis lived a full life. When he passed at age 83, it was not that people weren’t said at his departure, but his funeral was more like a celebration of a life well lived.
Grandpa Bones taught me how to live, and he modeled how to finish well. He’s in heaven today and I look forward to seeing him again someday.
Do you have a person like Bones Davis in your life? Better yet, are you and I people like Bones Davis in someone else’s life?
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022
*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.