Today’s guest blogger is a dear friend to Aileen and me and, as it happens, the granddaughter of Arnold Dallimore, whose biography of Spurgeon we only just began to read together. I asked Becky if she would be willing to share a few memories of her grandfather.
My grandpa was a man who could sleep anywhere. He was a small man with a big voice. He walked briskly, swinging his arms at his sides while he moved. He rarely left the house without his favourite red cap. He loved wonton soup. My grandpa always carried around two essential accessories: a shoe horn and a black, plastic comb. Each night, between seven and eight, he watched “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” (which, I am confident, based on his at home performances, he could have won). My grandpa was a world renowned author, church planter, pastor, preacher, poet, great man of God… and, according to my kindergarten journal, my best friend.
My grandpa loved to tell stories. I spent many hours, snuggled tightly between him and my grandma in the front seat of their car, listening to stories about his childhood in London, Ontario, his tomato soup (made from ketchup and water) years at Seminary in Toronto and the years he spent building and growing Cottam Baptist Church. My favourite stories were those he told about his mother, Mabel. Legend has it, that upon hearing the news of her death, a streak of his hair turned from brown to white.
My grandpa loved a good bargain. He was what many would have considered poor his entire life. He often told me that he’d never had two nickels to rub together. He would not have known what life would have been like with a little bit of extra money. Despite that, my grandpa always dressed well and he would often share the story of how much a garment had cost him and where he had purchased it from. He had a brown “Neiman Marcus” sweater that he had purchased at a thrift store. Every time he wore that sweater, he would remind me that it had been an outstanding deal.
My grandpa adored cars. He collected all sorts of car magazines and relished his annual trek to the Auto Show in Detroit. We would often take trips into Windsor to visit the mall. The ladies would drop my grandpa off on the auto strip, proceed to the mall for several hours of shopping, and return to the final car dealership at the end of the line to pick him up! He had no use for a shopping mall, but an auto mall could distract him for hours!
My grandpa was a man who demanded (in an altogether undemanding way) excellent grammar and proper speech. When I was small, he taught me to use the word “humongous”. When we would come upon something large, he would ask me, “How big is this?” I would reply with, “Humongous” to which he would approve with hearty laughter. He was eloquent and a writer of wonderful poetry. I have met few others in my life that shared his passion for both the spoken and the written word.
My grandpa loved hymns. He had countless committed to memory. I loved it, when mid-sermon, he would stop to recite a hymn. In his deep, strong voice, he would raise his head, eyes closed and belt out the words of a favourite hymn. To him, hymns were poetry… Words that could not be taken lightly.
My grandpa was gentle man and I don’t recall him ever raising his voice in anger. He was thoughtful and kind. He rarely said anything without first giving it much consideration. He was a wonderful and loving friend. As a little girl, we lived just down the street from my grandpa and grandma. I saw him every day, without fail. I would walk with him each morning to pick up the mail. I don’t remember what we talked about in all those hours spent together, but I know that it was in those moments that he was helping to shape my life. As I grew, there was still always a place for me on his lap. A kiss for my cheek. A word of wisdom when my heart was wandering.
In years before his death, my grandpa’s health declined steadily. I would visit him weekly in his rest home. Despite many strokes, and a somewhat changed personality, his mind, and his love for me, remained strong. The evening before he died, I had visited him in the hospital. We talked for some time about my university applications. He was sitting in the hospital bed and shortly before I left, I picked up his familiar black comb and combed his hair. I kissed him on the head as I always did when saying good-bye and went home. Early the next morning he went home to be with his Lord forever.
I can still hear my grandpa preaching today. In my mind, I can hear his familiar voice ring out, calling all sinners to repentance. I can still imagine him belting out the words of “And Can It Be”. I can still smell his morning coffee brewing. I can still hear the keys of his typewriter while he worked, sharing truth with generations to come. At his funeral, the pastor quoted the words of 2 Timothy 4… “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”