The sun was shining on a breezy September afternoon eight years ago. I can picture the day so clearly in my mind. I relished the pleasant sensation of soft, freshly turned earth between my bare toes. I can recall the sweat trickling down my back and soaking through my bright pink shirt. But the best part was the footprints. My grandad had walked through his newly plowed garden, leaving behind hundreds of footprints. And I was following them back and forth.
I believe that the actions I take in life will be the footprints I leave behind. Just as I literally followed Grandad’s footprints as a child, I am figuratively following them now.
Grandad was so full of life and personality. I loved to visit him! I would jump out of the car, run into the house and get a big hug and “some sugar.” Then Grandad would take my hand and lead me to “The Corner.” There, in glorious confusion, resided bubble gum, chocolate candy bars, sour gummy worms, peppermint sticks, lemon drops, taffy, jawbreakers, and the strange pickle-flavored gum that tasted so bad it caused my brother to exclaim, “Ouch!” the first (and last) time he tried it.
Our next destination was the old fridge. Its light brown surface was chipped in some places, but that didn’t matter. Inside, it was full of refreshing beverages. I usually would pick what Grandad called a “Co-cola.” What a treat on a hot summer day!
When I visited him in the winter, Grandad would take me out to his orchard and pick an orange right off the tree. In the spring, his just-planted garden held great attraction for me. I couldn’t wait for the little sprouts to begin popping up out of the ground! In the summer, he would show me the luscious blackberries growing on the fence by his house. We would grab a pail and pick some together for a mouth-watering cobbler. When we visited his pecan grove in the fall, he would show me how to find the brown nuts nestled in the leaves. Then we would crack them in the weathered barn and shell them while watching football on the small television in his house.
What memories! Grandad seemed to me to embody all that was good. He was loving and loyal. He didn’t own much but was content with what he had and would have given you the shirt off of his back. He loved God and others and demonstrated that love in everyday life. He was humble, wise, witty, and my hero.
Watching him become old and frail was very difficult for me. Standing by his bed the day before he died made me understand the importance of making my life count. I finally understood that when I die, what I have gained in life isn’t important. What really matters is what I have given.
The old fridge is gone. “The Corner” is just a normal corner now. I will never again chase Grandad’s footprints through the garden.
Now I am following different footprints, ones that matter even more. I am following the footprints he left by his actions.
I often ask myself what kind of footprints I am leaving by the daily decisions I make. Because I believe that just as I am following Grandad’s footprints now, someone else will follow mine in the future.
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