by Joy DeKok

I’ve been told I was a strong-willed little girl. I’ll let you decide.

When I was around four years old, I had done something and needed a “getting after.”

My dad pointed his finger at me and said, “How many times do I have to tell you not to do that?”

He says I pointed my finger at him and said, “How many times do I have to tell my grandpa?”

This is Daddy’s favorite story about me. I guess my sassy attitude surprised him and sometimes delighted him.

While writing my recent book, Your Life, a Legacy, I urged writers to remember, explore, and record their life stories—all of them. I felt an urging in my soul to remember my grandpa. I wanted to put it off, knowing it would hurt, but the internal nudge was stronger than my stubborn resistance. His favorite chair sits in my guest room, so it’s easy for me to go be where I used to snuggle with him. When the lady reupholstered the chair, she found his pocket knife and my color crayons. Although I had the rocker recovered, it’s still our spot.

One afternoon, I rocked and remembered baseball games on the radio, his clock that ticked, but had no tock, the smell of Old Spice, the feel of soft cotton flannel on my cheeks, his suspenders, his whiskers, the smell of his breath, watching him read his Bible, and listening to him tell me about Noah and Nicodemus as well as stories of his own life. He listened to me talk and let me nurse him with my toy medical kit. I woke up refreshed, surprised I’d fallen into a dreamless sleep. The same way I rested as a little girl tucked in his arms.

My grandpa left this world when I was ten years old. I felt like God had cheated me in a big way. At fifty-four, I’ve been missing this man for a long time. I decided it was time to put my memories on the pages. I’m discovering what he gave me so long ago still impacts my life today. He shared his faith, kept my secrets, and loved me. Today, I was looking at the man I married and grinned. Not only because after thirty-five years of marriage I still think he’s handsome, but because he’s so much like my grandpa.

When I was fifteen years old, I asked God to help me find Him. God did and a dead man’s prayers were answered.

As I wrote the book and continue to add Grandpa’s stories to my personal legacy, my belief that a life preserved will serve the generations beyond us grows. Besides, I’m still Grandpa’s Joy—I always will be.

Whose stories can you leave for the next seeking generation?

About Joy

Joy started writing as a little girl and carries a large purse so she can take her journal and an assortment of pens with her. She has seven books in print and is working on a novel series featuring main character Olivia Morgan. Joy is also developing a writing group, Write Yourself Strong, for hurting women.

She lives on thirty-five acres of woods and field in Minnesota between Rochester and Pine Island and has been married to Jon for thirty-five years. They enjoy their many nieces and nephews. Their dogs, Sophie and Tucker, keep them company when they explore the land riding their John Deere Gator or while watching the many birds that visit their feeders.

Faith is a vital part of Joy’s life. When she was sixteen, she asked God to find her and He did.