He was such a wonderful man. I’m missing him so much. Here’s a little info so you’ll know just how wonderful he really was. (I’ll be reading this at his funeral this afternoon.)
Albert Frank McComber was born on September 29, 1921. He entered Heaven’s gates on December 28, 2010. He was satisfied with long life and lived to be 89 years and three months old. He was known by many names – Honey, Mac, Mr. Mac, Uncle Al, Brother Albert, Al; his kids called him Dad, but his favorite name was Grandpa.
How do you summarize the life of such a wonderful and amazing man? With two words – he loved.
First and foremost, he loved God. He was saved as a young man and lived his life serving the Lord. He served the local church as Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Choir Director, Youth Leader, Deacon, choir member and faithful attendee. He was the first to arrive, unlocking the doors and greeting each person who came to the service. And he was the last to leave, wishing everyone a wonderful and blessed week, locking the doors behind him. He was kind and friendly. He was a wonderful example of a Christian. In the Gospel of John, chapter 21, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. After Peter’s affirmation, Jesus instructed him to “Feed my sheep.” And like Peter, Grandpa loved Jesus and fed His sheep.
He loved Grandma. Lela Mildred Jernigan McComber was the great love of his life. They were married just three months after they met, and their love lasted a lifetime. They were married for 64 years. Their love withstood the test of time. I had the privilege of spending many nights with my grandparents. And every night, as they were getting into bed, I heard my grandpa say to my grandma, “Goodnight, Baby Doll. Thank you for marrying me.”
He loved his family. Albert and Mildred had two children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. To Grandpa, there was nothing better than a day spent with his kids. I can remember his carrying me and both of my brothers around – all at the same time. I remember climbing up in our tree house to yell hi to him as he gardened in his backyard two doors down. I remember riding my bicycle to his house and walking my dog with him. I remember sitting in his lap as he read Bible stories to us just before bed. He always had ice cream for us. He told us stories about when we were little, when our dad and Aunt Cheryl were little and when he was little. He was a great storyteller.
He had four brothers and one sister, lots of brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and cousins. He loved them all.
He loved his country. He served in World War II, traveling by ship around the world. He told stories about that too. But his favorite thing about that trip was the people he met. He took care of those who became sick on the ship. He cared about his army buddies. He learned the languages of the countries he visited and conversed with the peoples there. He liked to show off his linguistic skills with us as well. He loved to ask us to pass him the potatoes in Arabic; and when we learned Spanish in school, he wanted to speak to us only in that language.
He loved being outdoors. He gardened and picked every weed out of his lawn by hand. His yard was beautiful, and the grass was great to walk on barefoot.
He loved food. Grandma loves to cook, and he’s always been her biggest fan. Grandpa would eat anything. He would even take wonderful vegetables, like okra and tomatoes and corn and zucchini that he grew in his garden, downtown to an old produce shop where he would trade them for things like turnips and beets – things we kids would never eat. But I loved being outside in his garden with him. And I loved going with him to the produce shop.
He loved dogs. He always had a dog. He would tell us stories about the dogs he had growing up and the dogs my dad had as a boy.
He loved to sing. He loved to sing in the choir at church, and he would sing while he was gardening or getting ready to go somewhere or while he did the dishes. And he always wanted to sing when the family got together.
He loved people. He never met a stranger. Within ten minutes of meeting anyone, he had figured out the six degrees of separation that had kept them apart this long. He knew everyone’s grandparents and parents and kids and cousins and in-laws and neighbors. He loved to talk, but he also loved to listen. He knew how to make anyone who met him feel important. He never forgot a name or a face or their life story.
He loved life. Grandpa was never one for speed. He walked slowly. He drove slowly. He talked slowly. He got ready slowly. He ate slowly. But his mind was quick. I believe that he wasn’t in a hurry for life to pass him by. Rather he moved slowly and took it all in – soaking up every second and enjoying the small things.
Grandpa loved. He loved life. He loved each of you. He loved me. We didn’t doubt it. We didn’t question it. He was affectionate and kind and gentle. He loved us. He loved extravagantly. And we loved him.