My grandfather, Gordon Hardesty, passed away on Aug 25th at the age of 102. I spoke at the funeral and thought I would post below what I read that day. He was so very special to me and so many.....
Today we are here to celebrate the life of a man that had an extraordinary heart and was truly a special man. My Pop lived a long happy life. He was undoubtedly the kindest most giving person I have ever known. He was always lending a hand, helping a friend or family member and he was in my eyes simply amazing. He was a wonderful son, husband, brother, father, uncle, friend and Pop. He was passionate about many things throughout his life. I wanted to touch on a few of those today.
His childhood was spent in Mill Creek. He was the youngest of the children and many of his nieces and nephews were very close to him. He went to school in a one room schoolhouse at first and then went to Newport through 7th grade. Each year in the spring he would have to quit to help at the family farm and he told me after a couple of years in 7th grade he had had enough. In the 1920 census his occupation is listed at age 11 as Farm Laborer. He began working at this point and over the years worked in many businesses…in New York and Philadelphia and throughout Carteret County…..in the seafood business, he opened a gas station, of course the car business. He was a successful salesman and a hard worker. He loved the car business best and always loved cars. He told me he started driving at 5 years old. He always made sure my car was running ok and had good tires. Many people have come up to me over the years and told me that if it hadn’t been for Gordon Hardesty they would never have gotten a car, a loan, a house, a job etc etc. He constantly tried to help people. He would give you the shirt off his back.
Pop loved his family.
He and my Grandmama were married 71 and ½ years as he would tell you…don’t forget the ½. He once told me that when he first saw her walking down the street in Morehead City where she was visiting her aunt he fell in love on the spot. He said that her beautiful red hair “did him in”. I am so proud that I also got the red hair gene and I passed it along to my Callie too. He was a good father to Gordon Jr, Patsy and my dad Jerry. He provided a home that was filled with love, fun and sometimes his temper. We have some really great stories of when Grandmama pushed him to his limit such as the “refrigerator story” that I’m sure some of you have heard. By the time I came along he had mellowed quite a bit and I could not imagine my sweet Pop having a temper. I would always try to get him to tell me I was his favorite grandchild and he would say. “You know I love you all the same”. When my dad was born Pop was 38 years old….Gordon Jr and Patsy were 15 and almost 13. Pop said he thought he would never see him graduate from high school. Not only did he see him graduate from high school and college but he got to see his children graduate from high school and college….he even got to see his great-grandson Arthur graduate from law school. He said he never would have believed it was possible. I am so thankful that he got to be a part of my children’s lives. I watched a video the other day when the twins were babies….there was Pop, 95 years old, down on the floors on all fours talking to the babies who were lying on a blanket. Up to this week the twins never left the house without Max shaking Pop’s hand…since that’s what men do Pop said, and Callie getting a hug and a kiss….and Pop always said “ Pop loves Callie and Pop loves Mac”. For some reason he always called him Mac. For me Pop was my hero. He was already retired when I was a kid so I reaped all the benefits of being the youngest grandchild. He took me with them when they traveled, we spent nights down at our camp in Otway “the valley” and days fishing he net…..he carried me on his back in Disneyworld when I got too hot and he carried a very large doll baby carriage all over England because Grandmama said Allison just had to have one of those. That man was the epitome of what a wonderful Pop should have been.
Another passion of his was traveling….he traveled to all 50 states, Russia, Europe, Canada you name it he went there. He and Grandmama love to travel and had many friends they traveled with. His motorhome days were some of his favorite times. He took his family on vacations in a time when people did not travel like they do today. My dad has wonderful stories of trips out west to see his brother in Montana. Pop passed this love on to his family and we have been on some amazing trips over the years.
He loved the Republican Party. He enjoyed being a County Commissioner and on the various boards he was on during the years. He continued being active until his late nineties. He has been called “Mr. Republican” by many in Carteret County and he along with a handful of others are responsible for the Carteret County Republican party we have today. I remember being little at meetings and conventions and thinking he was the most important man in the world.
He loved this church. My Grandmother, Alice Windley said when she worked here she always knew she could count on him to be a Pall bearer, an usher, or whatever she needed. He never said no. He spent many hours here and loved the people. Even after he wasn’t able to attend he continued to watch ministers on TV and loved to discuss the sermons. He truly was a Christian man who was a great example to others.
This is a day I have been dreading for many years. Luckily we all have wonderful memories we can cherish. I cannot adequately put into words all that he meant to me. Recently I read the book “Heaven is For Real.” In this book it says that when you get to heaven you are young again. I imagine Grandmama and Pop are driving around in Heaven today…in a Lincoln of course, both young and beautiful as they once were…..holding hands talking about what a wonderful life they shared together. He can see to drive which he missed terribly and she is sitting there with her sweater on backwards telling him she wished he had stopped at the store she saw 5 miles back. I know for sure they are smiling down on us today.
I would like thank everyone who helped care for Pop over the last few years. I would especially like to thank my Aunt Patsy who made it possible for him to be able to stay at the place he loved the most….124 Ann St.
I would like to close with a poem I found that describes how I feel today:
As we look back over time
We find ourselves wondering .....
Did we remember to thank you enough
For all you have done for us?
For all the times you were by our sides
To help and support us .....
To celebrate our successes
To understand our problems
And accept our defeats?
Or for teaching us by your example,
The value of hard work, good judgement,
Courage and integrity?
We wonder if we ever thanked you
For the sacrifices you made.
To let us have the very best?
And for the simple things
Like laughter, smiles and times we shared?
If we have forgotten to show our
Gratitude enough for all the things you did,
We're thanking you now.
And we are hoping you knew all along,
How much you meant to us.
And now it is time to say goodbye…..I find it fitting to say what as he said to me every time we hung up on a phone call….I would say goodbye and he would say “Right-O.”