Gdad, it has been a year since you left and I still miss you. I go to the lake and think of you constantly. I look at the Front Range and dream about you in heaven with Jesus. I look down at my knobby Davis knees and smile because a piece of you is with me every day. Can't believe it's been a year since you and the Lord gave me this post, but I wanted to share it again in your honor. Miss and love you Gdad, and can't wait to see you again soon!
My father, Will Davis Jr., inherited Lake Austin from my grandfather, Will Davis Sr. (or Gdad).
So did I.
Gdad, you always told me that you didn't have much growing up, and as a young man your motivation was your wife and three children. You went from skipping school to work at the Capitol as a 9 year old page boy (to help provide for your family) to turning down running for governor of Texas because you wanted to be present at home. Who knows, maybe you could have been president. But you weren't. Instead you raised 3 amazing children, cared for your beautiful wife, Ann, pioneered the fight for excellent public education in Texas, served as President of the Board of Trustees of Austin Independent School District for three terms, helped found Austin Community College, had an elementary school named after you in Austin, and served as Chairman of the Board of Regents at Baylor University (to name only a few accomplishments of your 87 years). You had always loved the outdoors, and along the way you bought what was then the only house on Manana Street on Lake Austin (we call it a lake, but technically Lake Austin is a river). You raised my dad and two aunts to love skiing, bare-footing and doing all sorts of awesome, nonsensical things behind a legendary Ski Nautique. Then they all got older, got married, and had kids themselves; enter myself, my siblings, and my cousins.
Lake Austin is our inheritance. Lake Austin is my inheritance. You gave it to me, Gdad. And I don't mean the physical property on Manana. I mean it's in my blood. That river is a part of my soul. So many memories and moments spent on that lake completely encompass who I am today. I actually don't know who I would be today had you not given the lake to my dad and had he not given it to me. I will speak for my siblings and cousins and say that they probably feel the exact same way. Because we all grew up skiing and doing all sorts on nonsensical things behind that legendary Ski Nautique, too (No bare-footing for me though; there are limits to my nonsensicalness. No doubt I got that discernment from you.).
I love that river. I love that big green lawn. I love that huge cypress tree by the water. It's a part of me. Growing up it's where I went for escape and reprieve. It's also where I went to make the happiest memories. It's where I got baptized. It's where I got ordained. It's where I took Kenton on one of our first dates. It's where we got married.
And now, it's the place where I got to say goodbye to you.
That day, you got quiet. You looked out at the lake, past the glowing fire pit that kept rudely blowing smoke on you in your chair, and after a while you said,
"Something about this place revitalizes."
"... for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people." Isaiah 43:20
Isaiah was a prophet and the chapters in his book are be both bleak and beautifully hopeful. They're mostly about God's relationship with his people, Israel. In Isaiah 43, the Lord speaks of his steadfast love for Israel, despite the people's disobedience and abandonment of their God. Verse 20 speaks of his provision: "rivers in the desert." Though God once literally provided water for the Israelites in a desert, it offers a truthful metaphor as well: God provides in the hard times. When we're walking through dust and desolation he will come through for our good and his glory. Maybe not how or when we want it, but always "for the good of those who love Him." And why this provision? Because, through Jesus' death and our profession of faith in Him, we have inherited it. We are adopted into God's family as sons and daughters (or granddaughters), and given unlimited access to God and all he offers.
Rivers in the desert.
Gdad, your whole life testified to this truth, that God provides rivers in the desert. You made your way through a lot of desert places in your life, but you held fast to honoring the Lord and he provided rivers upon rivers for you. That house on Lake Austin is one of those rivers in the desert. And years later, God is still providing through that river. You probably don't even know the depths of the blessings that flow out of Lake Austin and into who I am and into my entire family's identity. God has used your faithfulness to bless me a million times over. Grace upon grace, just like the waves that continually crash into the rock wall on a Lake Austin summer Saturday. The repercussions of your choices are still rippling out years and generations later.
And I couldn't be more grateful that the last time you kissed me on the cheek and told me you were proud of me was at our river.
Gdad, my hope and prayer is that my life honors you and your legacy. If I live a life that honors you, I know I'm living a life that honors God. I feel royal to carry the maiden name Davis and the blood in my veins that is so, so genetically yours (I also inherited your calves and Mima's wrinkly hands).
Love you Gdad, thank you for what you gave me.
You gave me a love of the outdoors.
You gave me respect for creation.
You gave me a heart to honor the Lord.
You gave me tubing scars.
You gave me precious memories behind the wheel of a Ski Nautique with light blue leather seats.
You gave me a river.
To Gdad, thank you.
This picture was taken on the day I got engaged to Kenton. Afterwards, we had a party at the lake house with close friends and family, and sweet Gdad was in attendance. When he saw me, the first thing he did was kiss my newly engaged left hand. This picture is such a representation of the man he was to me and many others. Thank you to my cousin Kate for this precious gift!