Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Ten Reasons Why My Grandfather, Herbert Ashe, Was One of the Finest Men to Walk the Earth

Today is twenty-two years since I lost my beloved grandfather. It's hard to put into words what he meant to me and what he still means to me all these years later. Since he had an effect on both me as a person and a writer, I'm memorializing him in this blog post.

(10). He is one of the reasons I’m the writer I am today. Although I only had Papa eight and a half short years, he is certainly one I give credit for honing my writing gift. When I was little, he would always put me on his knee and tell me stories from his childhood. The favorite one was of Skippy, his loyal hound dog who warmed his feet on cold winter nights and was the best dog in the world, until a mad dog bit him, and they had to shoot Skippy. Yeah, I begged to hear that one over and over although I cried through it most of the times.

Or we’d go sit in the little swing below the house, and he’d make up stories. They were usually all about a wonderful, sweet, kind, beautiful Princess named Krista. And in the stories, Princess Krista was always doing good and helping others. His favorite story was about an ogre of sorts called a “Whatchmacallit” that was shunned by society, but who Princess Krista(of course!) made friends with and brought it out of its shell. He taught me not only about storytelling, but how I should treat others,especially those less fortunate than me.

(9). Papa was a writer himself. Among my dad’s possessions, I came across stories Papa had written about growing up. They’re homespun stories in the vein of Lewis Grizzard and Garrison Keilor. He would have had some amazing stories to tell of his time in the war, his faith, and his family.

(8). Papa was a WWII veteran. He served in the Navy on the USS Kenyon destroyer in the Pacific. One of his favorites was to kid my grandmother about my father’s birth. Although he was gone for many years, he had leave up in Massachusettes(I believe...up north somewhere!), and she took my aunt and went to visit him. On that trip, my father was conceived, and he was six weeks old when Papa came home. Papa loved to joke he’d been away for over three years and came home to a six week old son!

*Papa was quite a looker, huh ladies? LOL

(7). My favorite story of Papa is one of faith. When my dad was in Vietnam, Papa said he stayed close enough to God that he could reach out and touch him. One evening on the news, he watched as an elderly Vietnamese man was taken from his home and forced to flee from his village. That unknown man an ocean away touched my grandfather, and he fell down on his knees and began praying for that man. Even with my dad in a foreign land, Papa never forgot that Vietnamese man, and he prayed for him every time he prayed. Every time I tell that story, tears come to my eyes, and I hope to have the same faith that he did.

(6). Papa was a preacher, and he was the pastor of both Turniptown Baptist Church in Ellijah, GA as well as New Hightower. In my church, Riverdale, his sweet, humble presence as a towering man of faith is still remembered to this day.

(5). Papa was a stellar athlete. He won a basketball schorlship during the Depression to Snead College in Alabama. However, he had to come home because times were tough. Not only did he play basketball and football at Nelson High School, but he was a very talented baseball player. He had a tryout with the Atlanta Crackers pro Baseball team. Although he had the opportunity to play, he turned it down. He cited the fact he’d been away from his family too long during the war to leave them again.

(4). He had a tender-heart. Things touched him, bothered him, and worried him deeper than they did other people. He had a sensitivity that touched people. He couldn’t stand to see people or animals mistreated. When I was little, there was a hound dog up the street that was skin and bones. I named it Big Dog, and everyday we would feed Big Dog and try to fatten it up.

I know I’ve inherited my tender-heart from Papa. Sometimes it’s both a blessing and curse.

(3). Papa had a wicked sense of humor. He loved to tell jokes, sometimes not the kinds you’d expect from a preacher!!

(2). Papa loved his grandchildren. He even had a tag on the front of his car that read, “Let Me Tell You About My Grandchildren”. My cousins, David and Stephen, were twelve and eight when I was born, so they had a lot of years being spoiled rotten by Papa, but he wasn’t burned out on spoiling by the time I came along. Papa was the type if you wanted to get up at 2 in the morning and play Little People, well then, you just got up and played Little People!

(1). From time to time when the ache from missing him gets so hard I can’t breathe, a feeling will come over me. It’s as if he’s saying, “I’m still here with you, and I love you and I’m proud of you.” The way I felt about Papa influenced the relationship with George Lester and Sarah in The Road to Damascus. Here’s a scene from later in the book where that is particularly seen:

He held out his arms, and she fell into them, weeping uncontrollably. Since the day he’d died, she’d dreamed of the day when she’d feel his arms around her again. There was a divine aura of light all about him, and within the shining light was heavenly love.

“I can’t believe it’s really you! I’ve missed you so much!” Sarah cried.

“But I’ve been with you all this time.” George pointed to her heart. “I’ve been right here.”

Tears streamed down her face. “I know you have. I felt you and your prayers. They were the only things that got me through sometimes.”

“That’s what they’re there for, darlin’. When you love somebody, you bottle up prayers along the way, and when they need them, they’re poured out like anointing them with oil.

One day, I’ll have this reunion with my grandfather. It won’t be on earth, but somewhere beyond the skies.


Amna said...

Your grandfather sounds amazing.

And yes, he was a looker XD

Chanelley said...

This was a lovely post, Krista.

Stephanie Jenkins said...

Beautiful post, Krista. Such a wonderful tribute to your grandaddy. :)

Laura McMeeking said...

I loved this post, Krista. I was have a grandparent memory day today, and this just really captured everything I'm feeling.

Emilia Joyce Plater said...

Amazing, Krista. That princess story reminds me of Shrek - but of course, you didn't turn into an ogre... you turned into a shining star of a writer. :)

Karla Calalang said...

Aww.. I love your story.. It makes me want to write about my father's passing away. Maybe I'll do a month-late post about him on the 19th of December. This was really great :)

houndrat said...

What a lovely way to memorialize your grandfather, Krista. He sounded like a wonderful man.

My parents were estranged from my father's family, so I barely knew my dad's dad, and my mom's grandfather died when she was a teen--so thanks for sharing yours with me.


Anonymous said...

I sat here and read your memories of Herb. I have to admit that I had tears in my eyes. I have so many memories of your Papa. He was a very spiritual man with a great sense of humor. His storytelling even came out when he preached. But when he preached, it was in the Spirt of Christ, not of his own. I remember him preaching about the time that the ship he was on during WW2 was in a terrible storm. He was called to preach at the time, but he had never told anyone about it. He got down on his knees and started praying for God to help them, and he would tell his preacher calling. That day, I could see the ship rolling on the sea with great waves overcoming the ship. I also saw Herb on his knees praying. Now how could I see Herb on his knees praying? It was because he had demonstrated before me that he was a praying man. He always had compassion for his fellow man, especially for the lost and dying world. He often worried me after he had his heart attack, because he would get down on his knees and pray his heart out for a poor sinner seeking the Lord. It worried me so much that I actually prayed for God to please watch over Herb and take care of him instead of praying for the sinners. I told your Aunt Essie one night that I could hardly pray for sinners for praying for Herb. Right then, she took my hand and said, "will you tell him that? He is worrying us to death." So I went to him after the service and told him that I was worried about him, and how about letting someone else get down in that hot floor and pray. He laughed at me, but he listened. He didn't stop praying for sinners, but he sat on the bench (like I have to do now) and prayed. God heard Herb praying. I saw evidence of that many times. He ask me one time to pray for his grandchildren when it came time for them to be lost and needed to saved. I told him that I would. He told the whole church when he was preaching one time that he and I had made a covenant with each other, that I would pray for his grandchildren when they became lost. Herb left this world one day and went home to be with the Lord. I had prayed with his grandsons when they went up for prayer, but I wasn't around when they were saved. One day, on the 3rd Sunday in June, I took a look at you at Riverdale and I knew that you knew that you were without God. That covenant between Herb and myself fell on me so strongly. It was a great blessing unto me to be with you the following night at Mt.Calvary Church and see you saved. Believe me, I was thinking about Herb Ashe that day. I have thought about him and Jewel so many times throughout my life. I felt so close to both of them. I loved them and they loved me. I have so many memories of both of them. I could go on and on. Maybe, someday, we can sit down together and tell each other our stories about our families and better still...our church family. God bless you, and keep up the good work, Krista!

Rachele Alpine said...


Your grandpa sounds like an amazing man. I can tell he meant a lot to you. How great it must be to have those stories your grandpa wrote. You should type them up to share with your family!

I grew up in a house with my mom and grandparents. My grandma and grandpa impacted me so much. Isn't family incredible?

Krista Ashe said...

Thanks for all the sweet comments, guys! I really appreciate them. Yes, Rachele, grandparents are awesome!!

Deana, your post brought tears to my eyes. It's so beautiful and so true!

VĂ©ro said...

That was a really beautiful post Krista and I love the segment of RTD that was inspired by your relationship with your grand-father!