Thursday, September 3, 2009

Long-Ago Grandfather

My dad's father, Andrew Christian Stroble, was necessarily a remote figure in my life, since he died 22 years before I was born. A photo of him from the 1910s, nicely touched up by my cousin Hazel Jones, hung in my parents' home for many years. Dad always spoke fondly of his father--"Everyone knew Dad, and liked him," he'd say. Listening to Dad's voice, I always thought that his father's early and unexpected death troubled him more than his memories of World War II combat. Andy's red granite tombstone stands along the roadway in Vandalia's South Hill Cemetery, near the marker for the five state officials who died in Vandalia in the 1830s.

Andy died of a stroke in downtown Vandalia on May 7, 1935, along the now-gone stores on South Fifth Street. Dad remembers that he collapsed in front of the barbershop visible in this old picture, but Andy's obituary states that he died in front of the hardware store along that same row. Dad was 22, and the two of them were running an errand.

Andy was 52 years and 9 months old when he died, which was exactly my age yesterday. Most of Dad's side of the family lived much longer: Dad was 87, his mother was 101, and Andy's own parents were in their early 90s. Nevertheless, I take Ziac for my blood pressure and Zocor and Tricor for my cholesterol. Thus my grandfather's legacy in my life: no happy times of fishing and hiking with him, but instead, an awareness of the fragility of health, even as we go about our daily business assuming the best (James 4:13-15).

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