Hello, friend! I am thrilled to share a new blog series with you this month: For the Love of Lexington. During the next three weeks, you’ll get a mini tour of Lexington and learn about our family’s deeply planted roots in the place we call home. 

It is an honor to commence this “tour” where it all began….

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When I share stories about my grandfather’s upbringing, I often receive blank stares of disbelief. It’s easy to drive around our beautiful town and see his home, tour National’s offices, and assume his life was like any other small town businessman’s. But his humble beginnings serve as an unlikely setting to this man’s American dream.

 

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A mother/daughter tour of the newly renovated building that served as my grandfather’s home.

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 The recently completed plaque, written by my sister Lanier, to honor the legacy of four tremendous individuals.

His story is simple in foundation and incredible in richness. Orphaned at the age of 7, my grandfather grew up in the Junior Order Home (now American Children’s Home) alongside his two brothers and one sister. In addition to his brothers and sister, he found joy in the “extra” siblings of the Home.

Georgie

The greatest reward – the ultimate affirmation of my grandfather’s hard work and commitment – was the care and protection of Sam the Mule. Given the size of the orphanage and number of children, Sam was an important part of family clean up. He was the “garbage mule,” responsible for keeping the grounds cleared and the trash bins emptied. It was alongside the four legs of this “colleague” that my grandfather’s schooling began.

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The Junior Order Home built my grandfather’s moral fiber and foundation. Two of the many tremendous qualities he worked to instill in all of us: integrity and service.

Deeply rooted in Georgie, as I knew him, was an unwavering level of integrity. The one consistency in my life, without fail, was his word. If he committed to a voice recital, he was the first on the front row. If he promised to take me fishing on Sunday after church, he was at the house before I could find my flip-flops. Integrity showed up in big ways and small ways, woven into the tapestry of my childhood.

My grandfather lived a life committed to the service of others. The levels of his bank account did not influence what he gave or how he gave. He lived all in…fiercely living out what’s painted on the walls of the newly renovated Children’s Home: “with what you have, where you are.” For my entire life, Georgie seemed like a mythical hero in everything he did – always swooping in to save another. Whether it was turning on the lights in someone’s home, putting groceries in their pantry, or providing mentorship to an orphaned teen, Georgie made magic happen. Even more incredible to me…he did so anonymously.

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Life alongside my grandfather was adventurous, to say the least. But more than that, it was full. Full of unconditional love, plentiful laughter, and too-many-to-count life lessons…he shared every ounce of his heart with the ones he loved (and he loved so many)!

When I look back at his life, one of selflessness, compassion, love, and generosity, it doesn’t take long to identify the source. He saw life at the Junior Order Home as a gift. People stepped in and loved him, giving themselves so that he might be better.

And so, he did the same with his life.

 

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