I remember him with impossibly long legs. He could be 4 times the age of anyone in the crowd and yet, he could still outwalk all of us.
I remember him with a voice that was deep and rich and beautiful. It was clear and ringing. You could hear it at the back of a carpeted auditorium or reaching out across mud floors and wooden benches. Singing joyously, speaking earnestly, preaching passionately.
I remember him reading his Bible. Always aloud, sometimes in English, sometimes in Shona. It was a daily practice, an ingrained habit. It was something I could count on, something I knew I would wake up and hear at his house, without a doubt. There he would be, glasses on, hunched shoulders, by the lamp, reading his Bible in the wee hours of the morning. It would be before he started his day. And he would always welcome listeners.
I remember him with worn, warm hands. Hands that would hold mine as he prayed for me, for my husband, for my child. Hands that were wrinkled with age, seasoned with love. Hands that had learned to show affection, to be warm towards others, to hug, to hold, to comfort.
I remember him with a mischievous grin. One that lit up his entire face. He had a sense of humor and he still had a sense of the little boy in him.
I remember how he loved popcorn in the evening and ice cream after a meal. I remember how he used to sit in the living room, arms up, fingers laced behind his head.
I remember him making time for me. How he always wanted me to visit. How he would meet me for breakfast. How he would drive down to hear me sing in Chorale. How he would travel to hear my husband preach and would sit next to me in the pew and listen, actively, responsively, encouragingly.
I remember him. Loy Mitchell. My grandpa.
And some days, remembering is beautiful. It is joyous and exhilarating. It is a celebration – after all, he has fought the good fight. He has found his reward.
But sometimes, the remembering is hard. It is tearful and aching. It hurts and it wounds.
But remembering is necessary. It heals and binds up. It bandages the wound. It helps us to honor and respect a man who lived a life utterly devoted, utterly genuine, utterly directed towards Christ.
And so, I remember.