“How old is your Dad now?” I feel like my husband has been hearing this for years. Living to 94 is quite a feat and living to be 94 well is really amazing. Up until very recently, Senior has been living life to the fullest and he will be missed.
George Alexander Beck lived a very good life and is leaving us with a huge hole in our hearts. Some called him George, some called him Dad, many called him Papa and I called him Senior. It’s a struggle to have two Georges in the family, and I was never comfortable calling my husband Junior or Georgie. For a while, I called my husband MY George – but then I had a son and realized my mother-in-law might take issue with my calling her son MINE. I started calling her husband Senior.
“Senior” has a few definitions: one is someone a specified number of years older, and Senior was certainly that. Older than many. Getting older had its challenges but he fought them tirelessly. In 2001, Senior needed to go on dialysis after surgery and we were certain he would decline after that, but he bounced back…and he continued to bounce back time and time again. Last week, I referred to him as the Bounceback King because I had texted my kids in the morning to alert them that he had had a bad night and it didn’t look good… and then when we visited in the evening he was eating a cheeseburger.
I can’t even recall how many times this man bounced back from a bad prognosis, but I’m sure glad he did! And trips to Florida? I think in his mind, each of his last dozen or so were his last. In 2005, he was going through a rough patch and was sure he wouldn’t be able to go back to Florida – so he told Kevin if he flew to Florida and drove the car back to PA, Kevin could have it because Senior certainly wouldn’t be needing it anymore. When Senior recovered that time, Kevin had to meekly ask if he had to give the car back. Of course, he didn’t and the car is still on the road today. Some attribute Senior’s good health to his healthy lifestyle as well as staying engaged and aware. This approach made him able to fight the good fight for a long time, and I don’t know many people who can stay on top of things as well as he did.
My husband recently warned his sister Pam that her taking the stairs to the 6th floor would ensure her longevity. Not sure he could age as gracefully as Senior, he, on the other hand, is considering developing some new bad habits or ramping up some of the old ones. As for whether or not Senior had bad habits… well….I’m the daughter in law and I’m not at liberty to say. He may not have had bad habits, but he did have fun ones. I remember the days of him having a Manhattan for happy hour, but as he got older he chose a glass of wine instead. Even that became a challenge in the later years because, to get his money’s worth, he always bought the bigger economy bottle. Too heavy for him to carry or lift, so he had to wait for someone to stop by to bring it in from the car.
He loved his grandchildren and was always proud of them. Even if they goofed up, he was pleased with how they handled themselves. He spoiled them rotten with his time and attended countless games, recitals, and programs and if he couldn’t attend, he sat through a private performance in the den. Each grandchild here has more than one Papa story they would love to share with you.
Another definition of Senior is: “holding an authoritative position.” Senior held his positions regally and with grace. I have never heard an unkind word spoken of him, and countless people talk about how things were when he was in charge of the plant. “It hasn’t been the same since the Becks left.” What a legacy to leave. This area appreciates the Beck’s and their leadership. Senior led with humility and grace. He was a very humble man.
I’ve heard “each time someone dies, a library burns”, and this couldn’t be truer than for Senior. I think it is what we will all miss most. His vast knowledge of so many things and his ability to retain it all.
One of my fondest memories of Senior is about the books I would read while we were in Florida. I love to read, but I tend to gloss over unfamiliar words. In Florida, though, I always read with a pencil and a piece of paper to jot down words I didn’t know. After dinner, Senior and I would discuss my list, and I was amazed at his knowledge. I gave him a word, he’d say what he thought it meant and then I would look it up. He was like a talking dictionary. One time while reading an Amish Fiction, I gave him a word and he casually said, “I think that would be a needle used for quilting” and he was right!
So, our library burned. It’s tragic, but it’s also a blessing that we had so many years to visit this free library that was always open for us.
Last week, when he wasn’t always clear and was so tired he struggled to speak, he still amazed me with his knowledge. I had shared some scriptures with him about how Nothing would happen to him without his Lord being with him, and that nothing would happen that he couldn’t handle with God’s power and grace. I told him that I wondered what the Lord would say to him at the pearly gates when he got there, knowing all that the two of them had been through over the years. He groggily said, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Even in his confusion and fatigue, he had the memory and ability to quote scripture. Remarkable to most, typical for Senior. Ecclesiastes begins with ‘Vanity of Vanities’ or “meaningless meaningless, everything is meaningless” but it ends with
“here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.”
We lose libraries all the time in the people we aren’t taking the time to visit and the calls we are too busy to make. Senior gave us ample opportunities to learn and grow, and we will all miss that – but I think that he would want us to keep seeking answers for ourselves. And, I think he would want us to turn to each other (& of course, take care of Mimi).
Life isn’t meaningless if it is lived in the way Solomon intended in Ecclesiastes, and Senior lived accordingly. I believe he hopes we will, too.
The Conclusion of the Matter – Ecclesiastes 12:9-14
9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.