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Saying Good Bye to the Best Grandfather Ever

By on March 31st, 2014 in News 20 Comments »

This hasn’t been the best weekend. If it’s ok with you, I’m not going to talk Auburn football. I’ll be honest with you, I hurt pretty badly.

I lost my grandfather over the weekend. He was not your ordinary, run-of-the mill grandfather either. He was one of the most incredible men I’ve ever known. I’m not good with sharing my feelings, but Lord I loved that man.

What do you say about a guy who helped raise you, was there at all the important times and most of all, loved you like a son? He taught me to ride a bike and drive a car. And more importantly, he taught me right from wrong.

Along with my father, he passed on his love of Auburn. Some of my most cherished childhood memories were of watching Auburn football games on a small black-and-white television in the meat market of the mom-and-pop grocery store that he ran for more than 30 years.

I’ve been to literally hundreds of Auburn games in-person since, but none of them have been more enjoyable than those watched in the back of that grocery store in the 1970’s. I can still see it like it was yesterday.

I’d give anything to go back there now.

He was part of the Greatest Generation. As many of you know, they don’t make’em that way anymore. He was tough (and loving) as they come and had a work ethic that few can fathom today.

He joined the Navy to fight in World War II at just 17 years-old. He was a war hero, but never told anyone. I was married with children before I found the old newspaper clipping documenting his shooting down of two Japanese aircrafts headed directly for his ship.

He returned home from the war, started his family and his grocery business. For more than a quarter of a century, he opened the doors each morning at 7 a.m. and locked them each evening at 7 p.m. He did this six days a week, allowing himself to close early only on Wednesdays and all-day on Sunday.

By my calculations, that’s 65 hours a week for all of his working life. The few precious hours away from work were not spent resting, but rather with his children and grandchildren. I never once heard him complain.

What I’ll remember most is how much he cared for people. He gave away as many groceries as he sold in that little store. He gave store credit to customers he knew would never re-pay him. He couldn’t stand to see people go without.

As he lay in his hospital bed last week, barely able to eat his lunch, he was more concerned with the young nurse taking care of him and whether or not she’d had a lunch break. He insisted that she go eat before coming back to check on him.

His funeral won’t make front page news. His obituary will be among many others in the newspaper today. But rest assured his life was not ordinary. Even with 93 long years of life, there are a lot of people hurting today, still wishing for more.

I’ve been one lucky guy.

I love you Daddy Joe.

20 Comments

  1. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    It’s difficult to know a man’s feelings, but I have been down the road you now travel. For that, I pray for you God’s blessings. Even in times of great sorrow, we can hang onto and relish the memories of our loved ones.

    The sadness never goes away, we just learn to live with it. Fill those sad times with the very best of your memories with Daddy Joe. After all, he is more concerned about you now that he is in the best place of all. God’s sweet embrace.

    May God bless you and your entire family, Jay.

  2. uglyjoe says:

    Try reading 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, and hang in there…..

  3. restless6 says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  4. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    May he rest in the peace of Almighty God and may God bless you and your family and friends always and in all ways.

  5. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I am very sorry for your loss. The thing that always hits me is the reality that when our lives are touched-and in your case-*shaped* by an incredible person, the ability to realize how fortunate we were to be in that person’s presence eventually (eventually) outweighs our wishing for more time. Relish the fact that you didn’t take your time with him for granted, embrace your grief, and be kind to yourself.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.-ERM

  6. audude audude says:

    Our prayers are with you and your family in this difficult time. May he hear the Lord say “Well done thy good and faithful servant”.

  7. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Jay, my condolences. They just don’t make folks like that, anymore. I know he’ll be remembered well!

  8. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    Condolences Jay …

    … for your loss and for America’s loss as another one of “America’s Greatest Generation” has passed on. We owe so much to your grandfather and to his peers. It was so much like them not to talk about what they had to do for their country. But we exist today because of their service and sacrifice. Thoughts and prayers today for you and for Mr Jody Kelly’s entire family.

  9. mvhcpa says:

    Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may Your perpetual light shine on him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through Your great mercy, rest in peace.

    Michael Val

  10. Jay Coulter Jay Coulter says:

    Thank you for all the kind words. They mean the world to me. God bless all of you and thanks again for the notes.

  11. wpleagle says:

    God bless. May your grandad rest in peace and you find your own peace.

  12. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    Condolences, Jay. He sounds like a wonderful man who lived his life with dignity and honor. May he rest in peace and grace, and live forever in your memory.

  13. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Those that come before us sounds kind of hokie when you think about it. Unless you tie the expression to a face like your Grandfather or mine or a Grandmother for that matter.

    We say a lot about the term ‘legacy’ when we speak about college football. But hear me… that’s nothing compared to the legacy THESE men and women who have touched us have left. Think about that. And it is a gift – if I have anything to do about it – that will keep on giving. Why? Because they earned it.

    I think I feel similarly… very blessed to be connected to great people who weren’t necessarily wealty in earthly riches. People that never seemed to want. Further, they weren’t educated by any College or University yet they seemed to know what was important. The only way I know to describe them is as Godly people.

    I just hope I can live up to their ‘legacy’. And I am here to tell you… the bar is set pretty high.

    My sincerest condolences. I feel your loss.

    WDE

  14. TigerWoman says:

    So sorry to read of your loss. Our sympathies as we keep you and your family in our prayers.

  15. win4au says:

    Sorry about your Grandfather Jay… He sounded like a really great man. Celebrate his life and know that he is home and is perfect! WDE

  16. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    Sorry for the loss Jay. Great men like your grandfather are representative of an era of people who made this country what it is today. We are all the worse for losing that generation.

  17. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    My deepest sympathies for your loss Jay.
    How lucky you must feel for having had him in your life. I am truly envious. Your grandfather sounds like the kind of man we all wished we had for a grandfather, and more importantly, embodies all that a man should strive to be. Loving, caring, hard working and shepherd to his family and community. Truly, a rare soul. Christian or not, he certainly lived his life in a way that Jesus would smile upon. The world is much poorer without him.

    May God ease the pain of your loss and strengthen the memories you have of him.

  18. AUTigerinBR says:

    Jay, we are so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful man you had in your life. May your memories bring you some comfort during this very tough time. You and your family are in our prayers.
    MD

  19. War Eagle Girl War Eagle Girl says:

    Memories….oh the sweet memories you will always have with you! What an awesome grandfather you had. He set in motion how you will live your life and how you will pass on his love to your grandchildren. We will all be better for him having been in our midst. May God bless his soul and comfort your family as only he can.

  20. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    My sympathies Jay, Sorry for your loss. Really sounds like your grandad was a great man.