An e-mail began circling around family members of words the cousins put together at Grandpa's funeral, and I had to share with all of you. Whether you live on a farm or not, I hope you find it inspiring.
Grandpa Manley, one man, who with the help of Grandma Betty, turned 13 grandchildren from the city into self-proclaimed farmhands.
That’s probably enough to leave many people in awe of what our Grandpa accomplished during his life but does not do justice to the impact he had on all of our lives.
It’d be easy today to allow ourselves to mourn the loss of a man who, for many of us, was our pillar of strength. Grandpa Manley was one of the best people I’ve ever met, and I know God was smiling on me the day he decided to make him my grandpa. But I don’t think Grandpa would want us to be too sad today. Grandpa Manley’s life was a rarity, one that was full of love, compassion and deep faith. He lived a full and happy life, blessed with a loving family, a wonderful wife and 87 years of good health
Grandpa Manley was one of the greatest men I will ever know and I can only hope to become half the man he was. His influence on the family will be everlasting as his qualities radiate throughout the members of our family and those who came to know him.
Grandpa was a man of faith. He taught and led prayer at the dinner table and taught us all Christian values through his actions and words. We always anticipated Grandpa’s reading of the Christmas story where the whole family gathered to listen to the Word. Grandpa always reminded us of the true meaning of the holiday, and we all learned from his quiet, unshakeable faith.
Grandpa was one of the most loving, caring, and respectful people we knew. He treated every person he met as if they were family and listened intently to their thoughts. He always let you know you were special, putting the needs of those around him first while pushing his own willingly to the side. No matter how many times he needed to charge the batteries on the lawnmowers or fill the tires with air, he put what he was doing aside so we could have fun driving the lawnmowers around the farm and into trees. Grandpa and Grandma made the time to make it to our events and show their support and he even made it in on a couple homework projects.
The strength of our Grandpa was immeasurable. Maybe it was from always carrying five gallon pails full of feed or water around the farm day in and day out. Or maybe it was from turning wrenches while he wasn’t carrying pails. The real strength of our grandpa was something that came from within himself that always made us feel like everything was going to be alright. Even after the fire on the farm, that strength that Grandpa exuded erased any question or doubt that things would have to change or that the farm would never be the same.
Grandpa was one of the most honest men a person could know. I remember being at the farm during the sale and listening as Grandpa talked with a potential buyer of one of his tractors. One of the first things my Grandpa told the potential buyer was that it was a great tractor but it drank a lot of oil. I remember thinking to myself “Grandpa, how are you going to sell a tractor starting the conversation like that?” As I looked at my Grandpa, I smiled inside and remember telling myself that I wanted to live my life the same way.
I’m sure Grandpa would say it was the other way around, but Grandma Betty sure got lucky when she found Grandpa Manley. Then again, I know it wasn’t luck—I’ve never seen a couple perfectly suited for one another or more devoted to each other. Their marriage serves as a wonderful example to each of us for what we should be searching for in our lives.
Grandpa Manley always told us girls never to settle for a guy who wouldn’t clean out his car for her, or didn’t treat her with the respect she deserved. But it wasn’t just his words that made us want to marry a man just like him—it was the way he looked at Grandma Betty and the way he called her his sweetheart after 60 years of marriage. Grandpa Manley was never a man to talk big and never follow through. Everything he said and did he believed in with his whole heart.
Grandpa instilled strength and confidence in his grandchildren through the trust he showed us. Some people may have thought he was crazy including us in some of the duties on the farm, but he was always there and always kept us safe. He included us in working with the animals, taught us to drive and operate the bobcat and tractors, and gave most of us our first driving lessons in the freshly disked fields and down the gravel roads.
Grandpa was a hard-working individual who never seemed to be able to sit still and if by chance he did, he could be found immersed in a newspaper, book, or medical journal. Even when our grandparents moved off the farm, he found his way back to help the Pistorius boys with the fields. Age was what you made it to our Grandpa. Nothing could stop him from getting immersed in what he was doing, even if that meant getting on your hands and knees and crawling or climbing to uncomfortable places. When Grandpa and Grandma were moving off the farm and into town Grandpa helped with all of the loading and unloading of furniture and appliances. We had finished putting the last big load of appliances including the washer and dryer, into the back of the truck and Grandpa and jumped up into the truck to help with loading. All of a sudden I heard my Dad yell “Manley! What do you think you are doing?” Grandpa had tried jumping off the opened tailgate of the truck and found himself on the ground. Grandpa looked at my Dad with a smile, brushed off his knees, and jokingly told my Dad it was a bit of a bigger step than he thought and got right back to loading furniture.
Grandpa never let anything go to waste. If he came across something that could be used for something else or somewhere else he made use of it. Nothing was discarded that could still be used. I remember a pile of steel posts that Grandpa had at the sale of the farm that grandpa probably put more money into painting chrome than the posts were probably worth. He applied the same principle to eating. There was never a time Grandpa left food on his plate and those of us that did provided a treat to the cats on the farm he loved so dearly and could hardly stand to be away from. Those cats were probably the best fed farm cats in the whole state.
With all the love Grandpa showed to Grandma and the rest of the family you’d think his love would have been stretched thin, but one of Grandpa’s favorite pastimes, besides watching the Twins or boxing, was playing cards. He always kept us honest while playing cards and would only let you win to keep you playing and learning to get better. Grandpa was famous for his unsurpassed skill at Whist, and if you’ve ever played cards with him, you will never forget his face- wide-eyed, innocent and holding back a smile- when he pulls out a surprise card or when he laid down what he taught us all to call “The Queen of Sheba.” I can still hear his voice, saying, “Now where did that come from?” in a very shocked tone, always followed by a laugh and a wink.
I will always remember Grandpa Manley very vividly. I can still see him, sitting in the blue recliner in the corner of the house, with piles of health magazines surrounding him. He was always telling you about the latest medical marvel he had just read about- his oxidated water purifiers or the natural herb supplements that were sure to cure about all your illnesses. And of course, “Dr. Rydell” never needed to go to the doctor because he had all the answers, a trait he passed along to his other sons.
Perhaps one of the most distinct characteristics of Grandpa was his shake. We often joked with him about his shake, but looking back on it, it only seemed to do him good. It allowed him to flawlessly sprinkle sugar over his tomatoes, provided the patented comfort pat on the back during hugs, and gave fishing lures the perfect action to keep the fish biting. Above all, it gave him a very unique signature, as unique as the incredible man we love with all our hearts.
Thank God for you Grandpa Manley!