Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Granddaddy Joe

I had the great privilege of having all four grandparents on both my mother and father's sides of the family live until my early adulthood. I consider this one of the many blessings that I have had as they all played important roles in my life right up until their deaths. As fate would have it, my mother died very early at the age of 56 while I was still in my early 30's. I have always felt very robbed not having her in my life longer. Fortunately, she was always very involved in my life and very close to both of my children right up to her untimely death. As grace would have it though, I was blessed to also have had a great grandfather who lived until I was 8 years old. Even though my time knowing him was very short and I was so young when he died, the richness of this man's life likewise was a great influence on mine. My father's memories and colorful stories of Granddaddy Joe are priceless to me. I even have my father on a tape recording right before his death, recounting many early memories with his grandparents on their farm in Vernon, AL. My father was their first grandchild and I am sure, spoiled rotten by them and all of his aunts and uncles. But Daddy's vivid stories of the character of this man made him a true legend in our family. Unfortunately, my Daddy, Mama, and all the grandparents are gone to heaven to be with my beloved "Granddaddy Joe" now, so I only have the memories and old stories to recall. Last week however, a second cousin of mine in Baton Rouge, LA sent me this email with Granddaddy Joe's obituary. I don't think that I have ever seen this, but was so happy to receive it and revive in my again my young memories of this aged grandfather who smelled of Prince Albert pipe tobacco, had a twinkling little smile and soft spoken voice as he gave me and my brother little tickles and jabs and played simple little jokes on his two great grandchildren. Again, I stand in awe of the character of this great man that I didn't really get to know. I will be anxious to meet him again in heaven and re-acquaint. I know that many also have truly wonderful and virtuous relatives to bring honor to their families, but I am most proud that I can claim that Joe B. Hankins was my great grandfather -- "Granddaddy Joe".

On Wednesday night, April 12th, the spirit of Joe B. Hankins was called to his heavenly home after several weeks of illness. Mr. Hankins leaves a family of eight children; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren; three sisters and one brother to mourn his passing. He had lived in Lamar County throughout his eighty four years. In early life he married Miss Ada Collins and they settled near Vernon, Alabama. Here they reared their children in a Christian home, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The wise counseling and firm guidance of these Christian parents did much to help their children develop into outstanding citizens. Mr. Hankins took time to help, not only his family, but also his church, his community and his country. He was a good neighbor who was generous with his friends and who visited the sick and the needy. He accepted and practiced the teachings of Christ and time and again gave the cup of cold water in Christ’s name as recorded in the book of St. Matthew. As a devout Christian man of great faith he staunchly stood by his convictions of right, which he interpreted by an earnest study of the Bible. He was a devoted member of the Baptist Church and never swerved in his devotion to his church and its principles. He also spent time and effort for the improvement of the civic and social matters of his community. He encouraged the practice of good morals at all times. He was an excellent citizen, law-abiding and devoted to the proposition that laws are made for the protection of people and should be obeyed. He believed that “right makes might”. It would almost seem that Robert Louis Stevenson had Joe B. Hankins in mind when he wrote: “To be honest, to be kind; to earn a little and spend a little less; To make upon the whole a family happier for his presence; To help a few friends, but those without capitulation; here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy.” Mr. Hankins was kind, he was discreet, he loved his fellowman, he had faith in God, he was a man if integrity and of true nobility and his passing leaves a vacancy in the hearts of his family and friends. But their loss is his eternal gain. He went as William Cullen Bryant describes in – Thanatopsis “ Sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust, Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams,” St. Paul wrote to the church of Corinth a great truth which seemed to apply to our friends demise - “ Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy
sting? O grave, where is they victory?

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