Adding meaning to ordinary things: a tribute to my grandfather

The following is the tribute I gave at my grandfather’s funeral on June 23rd, 2021. My grandfather passed away on Father’s Day. Although he was a mischievous soul, he added so much meaning to the life that he lived.

Good morning, my name is Blaine Beyer. I am Bill’s first grandchild.

My grandfather was a constant learner and a life-long educator… even with menial things. Whether it was reciting all the high school mascots on drives between here and Lubbock, or repeating back the punchline to his small reserve of corny jokes, my grandfather continually quizzed us. (What’s the mascot in Merkel? Snyder? How do you feel? With my fingers…)

He was always coming up with some kind of cryptic puzzle for us to solve. One year for Christmas, he’d given us a specific amount of money, but we could only keep it if we figured out the meaning behind it. He’d given us 33 dollars. After a lot of prodding and hints, we finally figured out he meant it to symbolize the number of years Christ Jesus was said to have lived on Earth. That wasn’t something we were all acutely aware of at a young age, but he always had something to teach us.

That was who he was, adding meaning to ordinary things. It always inspired me.

As I’ve been thinking through many memories about my DeDe, (that’s what we call him) I’ve been dwelling on the meanings behind his name.

When he became a grandfather, he originally wanted to be called Big Daddy. That was a lot for a baby to spit out. So when I began to talk, he tried to get me to say “B.D.” for short. It didn’t quite come out that way… and Dede stuck. You’re all welcome. 😂

Most recently, I’ve been thinking about his first name, William. It means “resolute protector” or “strong-willed warrior” and comes from Wilhelm, of Old German origin.

Now, anyone who has met my grandfather knows he’s strong-willed. Some people pronounce it “stubborn.” And let me tell you, it’s hereditary. But, I like that the definition pairs it with the word “warrior.” A strong-willed warrior. And that he was. He was a fighter. Especially in the last few decades, fighting to stay alive for his family. I always joke with people, saying he’s the cat with more than 9 lives.

William also means “resolute protector.” To be resolute means to be admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering. He was all of those things to many people. Countless classrooms of students were his purpose. He was very determined to make a difference in his career. And with his family, especially his grandchildren, his love was unwavering.

I’ve experienced this resolute protectiveness from him many times. That is what I cherish most about my Dede. He always stood in the gap when he sensed something was hurtful or wrong.

As I think about the meaning of his name and how fittingly his life reflected those values, I’ve wondered how we can carry on his legacy.

In the most recent years of my Dede’s life, I’ve had to reintroduce myself many times. His dementia really started to get the best of him and many of the changes in my life didn’t help him connect the dots. What I initially felt was an incredibly painful process of reminding my grandfather who I was, Dede, oddly enough, began to teach me something.

When I began to make my introductions to him, I was afraid he’d forgotten me forever. But each time I visited and told him, again, it got easier to tell my story. And in turn, it made me more confident in who I was and who I was created to be.

In many ways I feel Dede has taught each of us to fight for ourselves and become confident in who we are.

Dede used to randomly sing the choruses of Hymns…very loudly. One of the hymns I remember him singing was Blessed Assurance. The chorus says, “This is my story, this is my song. Praising my savior, all the day long.”

And Dede, very much like Jesus, is a savior in helping those around him tell their stories.

When I said goodbye to him, I made a promise that I would resolutely protect those around me and encourage others to continue to tell their truths.

One of my favorite verses, Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

If we learn anything from Dede, through his repeated jokes, thunderous singing, and his unwavering love, it’s this: don’t be afraid. And never stop telling your story.