Thursday, January 10, 2008

Grandpa Aungst

Tribute to Grandpa Aungst

"The best exercise is pushing yourself away from the table."
"Doesn’t worry...Christmas will come at the same time this year!"
"I could whip my weight in wildcats...if they're weak."
"They say if a boy don't have a little bit of temper, he's no good.
“Your grandma, she’s a good woman, that ol’ girl”

These were just some of the memorable quotes from my grandpa, Warren Aungst, my mother's father, who went to be with the Lord on January 9 after about a week in the hospital. He will be missed until we see him again. I wonder how we will know each other in heaven. I suspect he will be gentle and jovial, with a quick smile, just as I remember him most. Maybe he will show me how he used to stand on his horse.

He had a humorous habit of wanting to shake your hand, which he would squeeze with all his strength and with his other hand point to the floor, as if to say… “I gotcha!” Of course, it was all a joke, but he did it to everyone, including my dad, my uncles and myself.

Perhaps an experience that is remembered for whatever reason, and is almost always brought up, even years later now, is the salt shaker incident. I was probably 15 and was visiting my grandparents over mealtime. I had already eaten, but was standing around the table, and my grandpa asked for the salt. They had purchased these big round salt and pepper shakers that said “Yosemite National Park” on them. I grabbed the salt shaker and threw it to my grandpa across the table.

He missed it, very likely not expecting that I would throw it, and it landed on the edge of his very full unbreakable Chinet plate. The plate was not so unbreakable after all, and shattered in probably 100 pieces under his meat, mashed potatoes and lima beans. We all had a good laugh. I did not realize at the time that such a “good laugh” would last several decades. Be careful of what you do in a family like the Aungst family: it will likely be remembered for a long time.

In contrast to his wife, and to a large extent his daughters (sorry mom, Sue and Barb, but you know this is true!) he really didn’t worry about much of anything. His quote, “Christmas will come at the same time” really characterized his life. This sense of contentment and of simple happiness is probably why I enjoyed being around him…why I think everyone enjoyed being around him. In a day and age where ambition and wealth is increasingly valued to the detriment of friendship and conversation, Grandpa leaves us a good example.

I am reminded of the illustration of the death of a rich man. Someone asked, “How much did he leave behind?” The answer… “everything.” But Warren Aungst did not leave everything behind, because he wisely invested in people and friendships over a lifetime of full dinner tables and noisy living rooms. I believe he did this in part because he understood that this life is just a rehearsal, a brief time on the stage compared to an eternity with God and with God’s family.

Grandpa wasn’t very involved in ministry. He never, that I can remember, taught a Sunday school class (perhaps he did before I can remember). He wasn’t an up front sort of person. But he was a good man, in the full sense of the word “good.” He allowed, as he would say “The Good Lord” to influence and impact subtle yet powerful areas of his life like attitude, responsibility, human relationships and contentment.

We sometimes think that great men, great Christians, are those who get up and preach every Sunday, or who become missionaries. Maybe we hear them on the radio. That those who have great influence are those who exert great authority or can speak with the tongues of men and angels. Paul shows us a more excellent way in 1 Corinthians 13. It is the way of love. Grandpa was one of the most gentle, patient and caring people I've known.

That’s why Warren Aungst was great, and that’s why I will miss him.


1 comment:

Keegan and Terry Williamson said...

Rod we ae so sorry about the loss of your Grandpa Aungst. Sounds like he was a very special man. We send our prayers for you and your family