Being A Grandfather To The Fatherless

On September 29, 2015, my wonderful 30 year old son-in-law, Patrick, suddenly passed away from an unknown heart related condition. He left my only daughter, Brittany, who was 25, the Mother of 3 small boys. Peyton was one day from turning 3 years old, Evan was 1 and a half and Nathan only 3 months old.

My wife was out of state so it was just Brittany and I at the hospital crying together. My tears were not for Patrick because he knew the Lord and was in heaven , my tears were for my daughter and 3 young boys without a father. God immediately placed in my mind and heart that I must do my best to provide a father figure for those boys.

At nearly 58 years old and a busy house flipper and realtor, I was already spread thin, so I prayed for God to help me help them. They stayed in our home for around 6 weeks before they went back to their home and then stayed with us a lot of  weekends and holidays. I also stop by to see them as they live only 25 minutes away.

It has now been about 22 months and these 3 boys are well balanced, good kids that I believe will do great in life despite not having a father in those early years. These are 3 of my 14 grandchildren, currently all are 5 or younger and 12 are boys! It is obvious that I spend more time with these 3 than the rest and my 3 sons and daughter-in-laws graciously understand that.

At times, I am their 3rd mom behind my daughter and wife but most of the time I am just “Pops” to them. I have been very intentional about everything I do with them and here is a sampling.

Most of the time we go to church together and I meet up with Brittany to help sit with the boys. Nathan has severe allergies so he cannot go into the nursery.

We have gone on vacation together otherwise it would not be a vacation for a widow with 3 small boys. This way there are 3 adults.

On some weeks I try to take 1 or more with me to run errands or to work on a flip house or show a client a house.

We live on several acres with a garden, flower beds, orchard, berry patch, playground, zipline, 4 wheelers, tractor, mowers, and all kinds of cool stuff that boys love! When I need to do some work I take them out with me and teach them what tools do while we are fixing or working and they love it!

Proper touch is also intentional, patting them on the hand, sitting them on my lap, holding hands, hugs, kisses, and wrestling!

My father never encouraged me verbally and only abused his authority so I make sure these boys get plenty of verbal praise and “I love you’s”. Young men crave their father’s approval and these boys get what I can give them.

They are my grandkids but I try not to spoil them in any bad way. I draw a firm line and don’t put up with bad attitudes and misbehavior. This helps my daughter to not be the only one keeping them in line. They are respectful and tender enough to not want to disappoint me most times so it has not been an issue. Withholding privileges, snacks, and special dates is usually enough to keep them in check.

When they are with us, I have bedtime routine. Like I did for my own 4 kids, we have a time of Bible story, prayer, and goodnight kisses. Sometimes I dance with them to the soft bedtime music or music playing in the house and they love it and so do I!

These boys are young and resilient and will be good God-fearing successful men with their own families someday soon enough. I’m glad that God somehow gave me the time, strength, energy, and wisdom to be there for them in this season of their lives.

I am not alone in the quest to help these boys, they are blessed to have their other grandfather, several uncles all living nearby, and other men who also been intentional to pour into them. They are loved and prayed for by many of us and that all combines to make for a great support system for them.

These past 22 months, I have changed many diapers, got up during the night more times than my tired body wanted to, fed, cleaned up, clothed, bathed, and did what a father would normally do with them and what their amazing father, Patrick, did for them. We also played, wrestled, rode the 4 wheelers and zip line, went fishing, do routine house chores like taking out the trash, repairing things, and have many other great memories.


We cannot control what God allow to happen to us but we can choose to make the best of it. I choose to embrace the task and enjoy the journey and that makes all the difference!

Written by Howard Brummel


Comments 12

  1. Wow! Brittany, I saw your story around the time it first began circulating and remember hearing the music but I think I missed the part where you guys are from Metro Atlanta. I was deeply touched and saddened by all of this and then a friend referred me to your brother to help with a phone issue he was having a few months ago. I made to sure to connect with him on social media because I wanted to make sure he knew where to find me for any future tech trouble he may have. I somehow caught a glimpse of The Elm music link he shared and went into a rabbit trail to connect the dots that you and Tim are siblings.

    Anyway, I’m checking out your blog because I just started my 500th blog of the past 15 years (none of which made it past 5-10 posts until this one and my second “companion blog” [, I’m working on a domain for this one] already has about 20 posts pre-written and scheduled) and it’s been my networking goal to say hey and try to connect with local bloggers.

    Hopefully you won’t mind me keeping up with your story on social and I might actually have an outlet in one of my blogs as it develops for you to further your message as my readership grows.

    Hope to hear from you! 🙂

  2. Excellent! Excellent! Right on spot, Mr. Brummel! I am 100% sure that your precious daughter is amazingly appreciative for all of the assistance she is receiving from her parents and family. My story is similar to Brittany. My husband passed away just about 3 weeks after hers from 5+ years of aggressive prostate cancer. One of the only differences was we had no little ones in the house. My son and his wife have our 3 young grandchildren. The loss of my 68 yr. old husband was devastating, but if my daughter-in-law were to lose her husband, my son, she would be panic-strickened raising my 3 grandchildren on her own. Now, I would definitely be ready to assist her in any capacity, but it’s just not the same. Kudos to your family for standing in the gap for Brittany and the boys. God is granting you so many blessings in quality time with Brittany’s family. I thank you, parent-to-parent, for everything you are doing to help her adjust to her new definition of “normal”.

  3. Howard, you are a true steward of the gifts God has blessed you with. Brittany is a gem, she’s so wise for such a young woman. Obviously, you and her mom did a great job from day one with her. Now you are pouring the same love and devotion into her boys. Your family is such a testiment to keeping God first through thick and thin. God bless you Howard and your precious wife for being everything your daughter needs and more!!!

  4. This man, your dad aka “Pops” is what we need more of in this world. What an incredible, genuine, gift he is to you and your children Brittany. Thank you Mr. Brummel for being the greatest example of a Godly, loving man, father, grandfather. Your grandchildren are so blessed to have you. I admire you

  5. I just read this story again and can not get enough of the inspiration, love, encouragement and the importance of a supportive family. Many blessings for your entire family. I am in awe of the beauty this family portrays with God at the head of the table. Amazing and a must read for all. May God bless this family now and always. Congratulations also with so many beautiful grandchildren. Howard is a role model!

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