To Love Someone You’ve Never Met

My mom sent me a letter last week. A real letter. Stamp and all. But it wasn’t a letter she had written; it was a photocopied, hand-written letter from a woman I’ve never met. The letter was written to my dad and may be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. So why do I care so much about a letter not orginally addressed to me? Because it talks about my Papa Jack.

I never got to meet Papa Jack. My dad’s dad died a couple of years before I was born. He died of Lou Gehrig’s disease–an incurable and difficult illness. I’ve often hated that my grandfather had to suffer something like that. I hated that my dad had to see the suffering, as well as my grandmother and other relatives. It must have felt impossible at times, and I hate that I wasn’t there to help.

But I don’t hear much about those few years Papa Jack was sick. Instead, I hear lots and lots about the type of man he was. He was funny, they say. And a charmer and so, so kind. I know it’s true because my dad is like that, too. Papa Jack was an oil rig mechanic in West Texas and built the house my dad grew up in. He was handy, poked fun at my grandmother Thelma and encouraged my dad’s love for writing, though it was so opposite his own passions. I know I would have loved him very much. I do love him very much. Though I’m not sure how, having never met him. And the letter I received made me love him even more.

It was written by a woman named Ginger and tells my dad of how she knew my grandfather. Ginger was just a little girl when her Sunday school teacher assigned the class to write an encouraging letter to someone elderly at their church. She chose to write a letter to Jack Lucado, who was bed-ridden by then. Ginger and her mom delivered the letter and a pie to my grandparents’ house, where they found my grandfather lying in a bed in the living room. Somehow, Ginger got a moment alone with Papa Jack and asked a question a child would not be nervous to ask: “Are you going to die?” By then it was clear, it was inevitable, and my grandfather responded, “Yes, I am going to die. When? I don’t know. But I will eventually.” 

In her letter, Ginger explains that she remembers being afraid of dying at that point in her life. Her cat had just died and she was wrestling with the thought of death, so impossible to grasp for someone her age. But when she asked Papa Jack if he was afraid to die, he said, “I am joyful that I am going away, because away is to heaven. I will be with my father there, and I am ready to see him eye to eye.” Ginger continues her letter saying, “Then my mother and yours returned. My mother proceeded to console them with a fake smile on her face. But I smiled a big, real smile at Jack and he did the same and winked at me.”

Ginger and her family are moving to Kenya this year to bring the gospel to a tribe that lives on the coast. It’s a dangerous place to venture, but, she writes, “for me, I am not afraid. Because the worst that could happen is getting to see my father eye to eye.”

To know my Papa Jack instilled such courage into people, even from his death bed, makes me so proud to be his granddaughter. And makes me yearn to have known him in this lifetime.

To love someone you’ve never met–that someone would have to be really special.

21 thoughts on “To Love Someone You’ve Never Met

  1. What a legacy! Just goes to show what’s important in life. I remember my Grandpa fondly, and some of my keenest memories are from when he was on his deathbed.


  2. And now I’m crying at my desk. 🙂 Beautiful post, Andrea! I feel the same way about my grandma, who died of cancer before my parents were married. The stories my dad and aunt tell of her are epic, and I can’t wait to meet her in heaven. She was a pretty incredible woman, and every time my dad says I remind him of Grandma Marion, I’m honored to be part of her legacy.


  3. “Leaving a legacy” is something we would all do well to keep on the front of our minds. How will I be remembered? Will my neighbors have known about my faith? What will my children remember about my character and faith?

    Thank you for reminding me of the influence I have today and all the tomorrows.


  4. The longings of the true heart are a beautiful and wonderful thing! It is in that journey we see with great awe the God that made us loves us and whom we worship. I wonder what it must have been like for Abraham and for Joseph. Each of those lives was totally characterized by longing. So perhaps your longing for your grandfather ties you even more deeply to your faith and who you are and to the rest of humanity. Life in one sense is a cirlcle.


  5. Andrea, as my tears press and fog my vision, my fingers continue in a march-like perseverance to thank you so much for sharing that absolutely Beautiful story! My soul celebrates the legacy that your parents have shared and passed on to you! I pray that God will continue to pour out His blessings on you and your family now and forever….) Karen Scott


  6. Wonderful story!! Thanks for sharing!!

    I regularly thank God for the womb I was placed in…God’s grace! The shoulders we stand on are remarkable and I am so grateful for the lives people chose to live…the faith, the character, the love. 🙂

    I’m coming to Nashville in May. Maybe I can buy you lunch or a cup of coffee. I would love to catch up with your life.


  7. What a touching story. I had an aunt who lingered for years with ALS, and like your Papa Jack, it was a reminder that our work is never done and God never stops using us, even when others think we have nothing left to contribute.


  8. I knew Jack in his later years, but before he was sick, you described him perfectly. He was funny, encouraging and full of grace…and not afraid. That’s a pretty good description of your dad as well; I think that’s why think Jack loved him so much. Keep writing, you’re good at it.


      1. Hello Andrea, I am a Lucado as well. I’m wondering if we are related. If you see this, please email me at
        I would really like to hear from you. My name is Kim. I hope to hear from you.
        Many Blessings, Kim


  9. So glad I read this beautiful post! I am in the “waiting to be a grandma” phase of life, so I often daydream about what kind of grandma I want to be. This helped me realize that I want to be one who leaves a legacy of love. Love for Jesus, love for others. I’m glad that someday you’ll get to finally meet your Papa Jack!


  10. Andrea,
    Beautiful! Papa Jack taught me how to live, how to love and how to die!
    Thank you for sharing…my dearest love to you.
    Aunt Joan


  11. Beautiful! My daughter was only 1 year and 2 months when my dad died of cancer at 52. It makes me sad that she knew him for such a short time, but this post give me great comfort. Thanks!


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