What I Learned About Legacy at My Grandfather’s Funeral

Pic with DadoBack in the 1930’s, in a little town called South Pittsburg, Tennessee, little Johnny Goodgame caught his brother Charles smoking cigarettes. Instead of telling their mother, Johnny made Charles do his chores, including fetching the coal for the fire. That clever boy eventually became Dr. John T. Goodgame Sr. and my grandfather. All the grandkids called him “Dado.”

I heard that story and many more last weekend in my hometown of Clearwater, FL. as we celebrated his life. Dado passed away on May 22, at the fine old age of 94, and all the stories about him shared a theme: Dado was awesome. He weathered tragedy and overcame enormous obstacles early in his life. Those experiences, combined with the transforming power of the gospel, shaped his character into a quiet, powerful force. Stories told at the graveside affirmed all that we already knew about Dado. He was joyful. He was devoted. He was incredibly generous, but with no taste for public praise. He was humble; passionate in his convictions but also willing to learn and grow. And he loved Jesus.

My three kids stood at the graveside and heard those stories. They sat in pews and heard a few more, and the stories are still soaking in as we’ve talked about Dado on and off this week. The stories are changing my kids. Dado’s story is becoming part of their foundation, and that’s a powerful gift.  Pastor Willy Rice, in the eulogy, said, “You can’t buy a legacy like that at Walgreens.” And he is right. But you can build one right where you are.

Rich or poor, fat or thin, cat person or dog person, if Dado’s story teaches me anything, it teaches me that anyone can build a legacy. Anyone who clings to The Solid Rock of Christ, and allows His love to rule in their heart will leave a legacy worth building upon, and every sunrise gives us another chance to begin or keep pressing on.

At the funeral, Amy and I sang an a cappella version of Great Is Thy Faithfulness. The lyrics resound as a testimony of the faith my grandfather knew. Having seen him reach the end of this race, my faith has been strengthened even more. Dado was forgiven. He had a peace that endured. He had God’s own presence to cheer and to guide. He had strength, he had hope, and he was blessed beyond measure.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!  (Great Is Thy Faithfulness, verse 3)

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12 

Dado w/ grandkids

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