On June 29, 2011, an American hero died, he was my grandfather.
David M. Redstone was born in Olean, NY in 1918 to a large family. When he was still a young boy his parents packed up their family of 11 children on a 30 day journey from NY to the Atlantic coast of Florida where they would create a new life together.
David spent his childhood playing in the citrus groves and sandy beaches. After high school, he left FL to head back to NY to live with an older brother. While there, he met the woman who would later become my grandmother. Soon they were a family of three with a young infant son, but the peace of a young family would be interrupted by war. Not long after the US entered WWII, David was drafted into the Army.
During his tour of duty in the European theater, he earned multiple purple hearts and a bronze star. David was a big man who stood 6'4", and one day he was called on to fill a role for a communication post. He was instructed to carry a radio to another battalion of troops. Perhaps his size made him an easy target, for as he carried out this mission a German sniper shot him in the head. David fell to the ground and was left for dead, but thankfully he was rescued by a fellow soldier. The damage was so bad that a metal plate was placed in his shattered skull to hold his head together. His body had changed forever, and he could no longer use his right side.
He was shipped back to a military hospital in the states where he was met by grandmother. For months, she lived with their young son in Atlanta while my grandfather learned to speak, read, and write again. He developed enough mobility in his hip that he was trained to walk with a brace. After his recovery period they left Atlanta and traveled back to his childhood home in Vero Beach, Fl where my mother was born. With the encouragement of an older sister, David began college on the GI bill, and later graduated from the University of Miami law school.
After law school, he was hired as an attorney by the state of FL and moved to Tallahassee where he grew a successful career and life. Throughout this life, he was a faithful member of St. Paul's Methodist Church and multiple civic organizations. Until his death no one understood the influence of his life. Our family never even knew the difference he made in the lives of so many people of all ages.
Each day of his life was a fight as he struggled out of bed to dress himself with one arm. The time it took to do anything was often double an able-bodied person. It was his faith that sustained him, and would not let him quit. On that day a bullet had shattered his head, he lay on a German battlefield and heard God speak to him that he would survive and God would be with him the remainder of his days.
Often I heard him say that he was not in charge of his life, but his life was in the hands of God above. His life was evidence of this truth. The doctor that stitched him back together gave my grandfather one of the bullets that had been lodged in his body. On the bullet was etched, "made to kill", fortunately Someone overrode the purposes of that bullet, and David Redstone lived.
He died just as he lived. He looked death straight in the face and refused to quit. It wasn't his life to give up--it belonged to someone else. His final days were a wrestling match with death. In November, he was hospitalized for a stomach condition. He declined to the point that he was released to a hospice center. Yet, he refused to quit.
He recovered, and hospice would not keep him, so he entered a nursing facility. He continued fighting, and over the next several months he became fully immobile and blind. It seemed obvious to everyone that the end was near but he would not give up. Hospice came in again and was shocked that he was still surviving. Then on Thursday, June 29th, the nurse came in and asked if he was doing ok. He shook his head yes and passed this life.
His life proves that habit eventually becomes character. Each day of my grandfather's life he fought and struggled. He refused to quit and give in. When the end came and his strength and clarity left, the core of who he was refused to quit.
At the family viewing of his body, I stood over the shattered icon of my grandfather and prayed for his rest. I also prayed for my own soul. Life Elisha's prayer for a double portion of his master Elijah's character, I prayed that some of my grandfather's character would inhabit my own life. I prayed that I would endure, never quit, and fight the good fight till the end. We pray often in Church that we will have a "Christian end to this life", and I believe my grandfather had such an end. I pray that I may do the same.
David Mark Redstone--may your memory be eternal!