I want to offer a short tribute to my wife’s grandfather, Ralph Friedrich, who passed away last week at the age of 97.
My remembrances of Grandpa Friedrich are limited, having come into the family at such a late point in time. My earliest memories are of a man much younger than his accrued years, who drove himself from Michigan to DC at the age of 90 to attend his beloved granddaughter’s wedding. A man with a quick wit and a sparkle in his eye, always with a smile on his face and a story to tell.
Shortly after that wedding, Grandpa suffered a stroke that took away much of his independence. Yet while his ability to move around was reduced and his speech became more and more labored, the twinkle never left his eye.
Three years ago, we were blessed to be able to take the kids (well, the three of them that were around at the time) out to Michigan to introduce them to their great grandfather. And while Grandpa struggled to speak, his eyes told the story of a man content with a life well lived, and a legacy that would continue well after he had left this world for the next.
Although my personal recollections of Grandpa Friedrich may be limited, my connection to him grows stronger with every passing day. Indeed, Grandpa is always before me. I see him in his children—my father-in-law, his brothers and sisters and their families, who have shown me great love, support, and kindness. They have reflected to me the values that they learned from their dad, and that they passed on to their children.
I see him in my wife, who speaks glowingly of her grandfather’s charm, intelligence, and generosity—all traits that she inherited from him. Beth gets misty whenever she speaks of her Grandma and Grandpa’s home in Midland, and the sense of love and family that emanated from every nook and cranny of it. She longs for our house to be a similar place of welcome, where all can feel safe, secure, and loved.
And I see it in our children, who have their great grandpa’s curiosity, his joie de vivre, and a thirst for adventure. It is my profound hope that they are able to pass these traits on to yet another generation, so that even more people may be blessed by Grandpa Friedrich’s legacy.
So, a tip of the glass to Ralph Friedrich. May we all aspire to living a life of such quiet and unassuming significance. May you rest in the arms of your Savior, and we look forward to a time when we can join you in that repose. I thank you for the gift you and your family have been in my life, and I vow to carry on the legacy that you so ably laid out before me.