August 22, 2007
An Influential Man
By: David Holtzclaw
I can still here his voice in my mind as if he were standing in front of me. My grandfather, James Beck, was a big, strong, rugged, and God-fearing man. I always thought he was too stubborn to die. I never foreseen the day that I would be without him. My grandfather’s words and teachings are what leads and guides me. James Beck was the most influential person in my life. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of him.
James Beck, in my opinion, knew how to do everything. I went to live with him when I was only ten years old. My grandfather and grandmother raised me on a farm. The lessons I learned from him could fill a book many times over. He could build anything, fix anything, and I was his shadow trying to be just like him as I grew up. My grandfather, who I called Papa, was my world. He always called me “son”. I knew when I disappointed him and I did not want to do it again. He never had to say anything. He just gave me a stare that let me know his feelings without ever speaking a word.
I had no way of knowing that when I left for the Army to be stationed in Germany in 1989, I would never see my grandmother again. I was told by the American Embassy that my grandmother had been killed by a drunk driver back in the States and to return home immediately. I missed my grandmother’s funeral. I remember my Papa’s sadness and grief when I returned home. He was a strong man, but I do not think he ever recovered from losing his wife of over forty years. He did not attend church for a long time after it happened. I feared grief would kill him for a long time. As always, Papa came out stronger in the end.
Papa never was a person to speak his mind without an invitation. He allowed his children and grandchildren to make their own mistakes. He was a tough man. He told us all that “if we were smart enough to get ourselves into trouble, we were smart...