I’ve often said that one of the best kept secrets of some of our congregations is the wonderful, wise, witty, generation of elders contained within. We need signs outside with the words, “Grandparents for Rent.” Rent is really the wrong word but “Free Grandparents” sounds a little like free kittens and in today’s society value comes with a cost.
On Saturday, the cost of one such beautiful contract came to a close for our family. For just a little while, we took up residence in the life of Royall and Martha Yount. We say goodbye to Royall on Friday and it hurts. We loved him dearly. He was a pillar of faith and it has taken me days to even start this post to share a little of our life together.
Some knew Royall as Bishop Royall A. Yount, Sr. who served the Florida/Bahama Synod as LCA Bishop for 37 years. I knew Royall after all that. He’s always been former bishop to me. For us, he was just Mr. Royall and he was married to the wonderful Mrs. Martha. Every Sunday, pulpit side of the aisle, they were there. Potluck dinners, congregational events – they were there. Always.
As Royall grew more frail, we would meet them at the back door of the church and Eric would take him upstairs to the sanctuary in the wheelchair. Eric even refrained from popping wheelies with the wheelchair – only because it was Mr. Royall. We won’t talk about all the times we asked to pick them up or the times Royall drove them to worship and then got in the wheelchair. Stubborn and independent go hand in hand. We would take lunch to their house after feeding the LR kids and sit in their den and listen to stories of their life in Florida before we even knew them.
When I became assembly manager, Royall was still able to come for at least the first day and be recognized. Later, I’d go see him before and after assembly to tell him all about it. He was always quick to say no when asked if he missed synod assemblies as bishop. As his health issues grew more serious and they both moved to Trinity Village, I knew that one day soon we’d be calling his name during assembly worship and ringing a bell. It’s a lovely remembrance for a lovely man but I’m telling you now, there will be tears.
Royall Austin Yount, Sr., we were blessed to know you, love you, and call you friend. You taught us about Jesus because you lived as his disciple – each and every day. Thanks be to God for the gift of the Royall’s in all our lives.
Grandparents for rent – priceless.