My grandfather was an amazing person.
My first memory of sitting at a table with a white table cloth and a white linen napkin was with him. I was 7 years old and we were eating in downtown Phoenix at the Arizona Club. He was a very successful businessman and was the President of Arizona Sash & Door. He and my grandmother took me everywhere and proudly introduced me. "My granddaughter plays the piano." He had quite the personality. He taught me how to "look people in the eye," and carry on a good conversation. From an early childhood, I remember him teaching me how to respond to a question with a complete sentence. He (and my grandmother) taught me good manners. I was well-behaved and I did not want to ever disappoint him. I wanted to make him proud (until the day he died).
I spent every summer with my grandparents for 10 years, starting at age 7. I'd save my babysitting money, pay one way, and they'd pay my way home. It was my favorite time of year. They paid attention to me. And although I was one of 10 grandchildren, they always made me feel (the most) special. (Today I know they did that for the other nine grandkids as well.) Everyone got a nickname.
He was the kind of person where you never wanted to leave his side. . . because he was going to do something interesting and you didn't want to miss it.
He had a shop out back and my favorite smell to this day is the smell of a shop . . . gasoline, wood, oil, machines, tools, cars, engines. He was always making or fixing something. I'd spend hours standing by his side in that memorable Arizona night heat, talking to him.
My grandfather loved hobbies. He was always doing SOMETHING. If we weren't in the shop, we were in his garden picking melons. Or learning a new hymn at the piano after dinner, singing all the parts. He'd shuck corn, can beets, and if we were just talking around the dining room table, he'd crack walnuts. He (and my grandmother) would speak Spanish (fluently) when he didn't want me to know what he was saying. Actually, I think he was kind of showing off. He was brilliant in every way.
Charlie Mann. He loved his name.
Every day he got dressed up. He wore beautiful clothes and fancy designer shoes (thanks to my grandmother) even though he'd just be at home alone for the day. He'd put on a hat if he went outside (Arizona sun) and I remember that he always wore cologne and something sticky in his thick, curly hair. Before bed, he'd put on his burgandy silk pajamas and crawl into bed and pull out his Bible. My grandmother and I would sit at his bedside and he'd read a beautiful passage of scripture out loud to us. He'd make daily applications from the reading. . . some things which I will always remember. We'd pray, then he'd affectionately hug and kiss me on the cheek goodnight. When I'd leave his room, he'd write in his journal about his day. (I secretly and selfishly always hoped he would write something special about me.) His Bible and his journal sat beside his bed on his nightstand until the day he died.
Like I said, my grandfather was an amazing person. Extraordinary.
Today I look back and with these challenging times before us I now know the secret ingredient in his soul.
He was not afraid.
* * *
In August we toured North Dakota. Although most everything in the country was shut down due to COVID restrictions, we'd been invited to perform in an old opera house in Maddock. A woman named Carol Backstrom called us earlier in the year, and we booked the date. Although everyone in the country was in total fear of the virus, we wanted to go. We were not afraid.
When Carol invited us, she explained that the stage of the opera house was located up on the second floor of the building, and there was no elevator to get my piano up to that area. There were very steep stairs and of course, my 1450 pound piano would never be able to be pulled or pushed up that flight. But, have no fear! They assured me in the beginning that they would figure it out. The whole town was excited to have me, and there were plenty of creative people who would get my piano up to the second floor of this old building.
With so much going on with the COVID situation, I kind of forgot about the upcoming challenge of moving a concert grand piano to a second floor of an old opera house. (It was one of those things where you put it in the back of your mind.) But, apparently, Tim assured me they had it all figured out. All I knew was they had the EXACT measurements of my piano. We were doing it.
When we got there, sure enough, everyone was waiting outside the opera house in the side alley. And, boy did they have the gear . . . a special forklift, a custom built plank just for my piano, and a dozen men all in on the quest of "getting Lorie Line's piano up to the second floor of the opera house." They warmly greeted us, jumped in right away and opened the back of our truck, and started moving the piano out onto the special lift they had built . . . just for me. (Ahh. . . engines, wood, oil, gasoline . . . the smell of the shop.)
These men were like my grandfather. I was in good hands. Never once did I think they'd drop my piano. They had totally prepared for this day. There was something special about them. They were not afraid.
In 15 minutes, they moved the piano up into the air to a small man-size door and basically popped it in to the opera house. It was effortless. At the end of the night my piano went back down (in the dark), the same way it came up.
It was a magical and very memorable day.
That night, before I got into the truck to go back to Minnesota, two of the men (Paul and John) came to me and asked if they could pray for me. They laid their hands on me, and said the most beautiful words I've ever heard . . . for a woman they'd just met that day.
Do you know that "Be Not Afraid" is stated 365 times in the Bible?!! As I get out of bed, it is now my first thought of every day. And as I venture out on a tour that will be the most challenging time of my life, I will think and meditate on these things.
(Isaiah 41:10) Be not afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
You can bet that I will be returning to Maddock, North Dakota. And soon.
Pictured above is one of the earliest photos I have with my grandfather. I was two years old in this photo (1960).
Notice who I'm standing by. (He was probably telling me to stand still and "smile!")
(Pictured left to right . . . my grandfather Charlie Mann, my father Dale, my mother Lorraine, my aunt Lorna, my aunt Loretta, and Frances, my grandmother. In the front Lorie and my brother Chip.) Everyone is still living (all in their 80s) except my grandparents.
My nickname was "Punkin-O".