The best part about Grandpa

IMG_0987Hard workin hands.

Logger man hands.

I remember how they felt around mine when I was seven, tagging along on his errands. I remember how they looked holding the whoopie pies I baked him, their smooth circles dwarfed by his huge fingers. All of his sons were big sturdy men with hands to match, but nobody had hands like Grandpa.

I watched them split wood and build fires, butcher meat, play cards, wield a hoe, catch walleye, and pop the best corn ever.

They thumped on his pulpit.

They steered his old Steiner around the yard, a grandchild perched on either side.

They sliced cheese and served customers alongside mine when we worked at the same bulk food store.

They covered mine and Ryan’s as he pronounced us man and wife.

He was crazy over fishing, Grandpa was. You take a grandfather’s boat, add a keg of minnows and an ice-blue wake, you get wind yelling in our faces and us yelling back into it for sheer joy, summer after summer. He grasped the rudder, handled the net, picked out pretty little lures for us so we’d catch the big one. We camped on Yutzy Island mid-day for a bathroom break and a packed lunch, our feet hanging in the water. In the evening we ate the rich catch, fresh-fried and crisp, our childish bodies swaying with weariness and the memory of the waves.


His hands were good at steering courses, filleting fish, and holding the happiness of small fry in safekeeping.

This week I will see them for the last time, the heartiest part of his shriveling body. The best part about Grandpa.

I can’t help hoping that on Resurrection morning, Jesus remakes them exactly the same.

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Ruthie Schrock
11 years ago


Marlene Stoltzfus
11 years ago

Beautiful tribute, Shari.

Sharon Yoder
11 years ago

Beautiful glimpse of big hands that shaped the heart of a little girl and a grown woman.

Ruth Byler
11 years ago

Beautiful, Shari! Praying for you and your family as you lay dear Grandpa to rest. Wishing we could be there…

GrandmaKitty Brown
11 years ago

Tears. We remember your grandpa.

11 years ago

You’re right. That was the best thing about Grandpa. I am really feeling it to not be there. 🙁

11 years ago
Reply to  Jean Nisley

Hugs, Jean. Been thinking about you and praying for you especially as you are separated from your family during this time.

Diane Histand
11 years ago

I remember your grandfather. Popcorn!! Our oldest daughter would have been 11yrs old when your grandfather had meetings at our church. (northeastern PA) She remembered the man that stayed in a camper and liked popcorn! Our daughter remembered there is a picture in a school yearbook of the school students beside his camper. She pulled out the yearbooks and found the picture. He touched many lives, in big and small ways! I have memories from the times I heard him speak.

Blessings and comfort to the family as you say good bye in this life the last time. Resting in the promise of seeing your loved one again on “the other shore”.

11 years ago

Blessings, grace and comfort to you, Shari, as you say “goodbye” to your Grandpa for now.

11 years ago

I don’t really know him, but there is a faint and distant memory of a Yutzy house in MN that was warm and friendly where a gaggle of us giggling MBS girls stayed on gospel teams one night.
You wrote this so perfectly. Warmest of thoughts, Shari.

Irene Bontrager
11 years ago

Beautiful tribute. He lived next door to you for 20 years so of course he left a huge impact in your heart. Grieve freely. I pray for God’s grace to surround you as you lay your grandfather to rest. One thing that impacted my heart was your grandfather’s prayers lifted up to the Father on my behalf. I will always cherish his prayers!

11 years ago

I love this ~ sounds like a wonderful life that affected many people in such a wonderful way.

11 years ago

I am intrigued by hands and the hidden stories behind each callous and wrinkle and knuckle and knot and scar.

This is a beautiful tribute to your grandpa. You should read it at his funeral. 🙂

11 years ago

Shari, I pray you God’s comforting grace at this time, for you and all your family.

Mama Zook
11 years ago

so glad I got to read this tribute…wonderful…and I also love the story of hands!

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