Growing up in a small town in southwest Kansas I was blessed to be able to spend time with my grandfather almost every day. My grandparents only live a block away and I took many trips down the alley to see them. My grandfather was more like a father to me than my own dad.
My grandpa was my light in the darkness, my rock, my role model, and my support system. Grandpa told me how to walk and talk like Jesus. I have so many memories of him serving others, putting others before himself, loving grandma the way he did, making a difference in others lives and living like Jesus.
He taught me how to love others, how to treat others how I want to be treated, how to forgive and serve.
I always tell the story of one Christmas where I really wanted a bike so bad. I wrote my letter to Santa asking for a blue bike and I couldn't wait until Christmas morning. Christmas morning came and as a family, we took that trip down the alley to our grandparents. I could smell breakfast all the way from my house but all I could think about was that bike. It was time to open presents and after opening every one of them, there was no bike.
I was upset, hurt, and even angry that I didn't get what I wanted. My grandpa took me aside and shared a story with me about when he was a kid. He reminded me that we don't always get what we want but usually what we need. He told me about the greatest gift of all, Jesus and what he did for me. After our talk, he took me outside and told me to go to the shed. There it was blue as can be, my new bike.
He was a role model who stood up for the truth and taught me how to be a man of integrity. My grandpa was not just an example for me but for many others. His legacy lives on today in the lives of those he met, loved and cared for. He was the fire chief in Ulysses, KS for 25 years and made a big difference in the community.
I recall a summer trip just him and I went on to Colorado. He wanted to spend a summer with me so we traveled all over Colorado. We had a wonderful time checking out all the sights and sounds of Colorado. On the trip, my grandpa taught me many lessons of how to be a man. The next summer we planned on going to the Grand Canyon, just the two of us.
That trip never happened because my grandfather passed away before the summer ever came. The day before he passed away I went over to see him. He was sitting in his lazy boy watching the news. He asked me to go get him a shake from Burger Boy, where my mom worked, and for going I got one too. It was two blocks away and on the way I went. When I returned he was asleep snoring so I didn't wake him but left the shale there and told him I love you.
I went home and the next day we usually get a phone call from him or he would come over to the house. We didn't hear anything so my mom took the trip down the alley. My mom found him in his lazy boy with the tv still on and is shake was drunk. I was in tears and angry at myself for not waking him. He was my idol and writing this even brings tears to my eyes.
Chester Arthur Riley was my grandfather. What a great legacy he has left.
John D. Hayden Library Director Jesus N Sports Writer Avid Kansas Jayhawks Fan Father