You Smell Like Grandpa!


When my daughter was much younger the aroma of my cologne often caused her to exclaim, “You smell like grandpa!” I was initially offended that she wasn’t able to differentiate between my high-end department store cologne and my dad’s low-end big box store aftershave. And then I realized the value of the fragrance didn’t really matter to her. Instead, her focus was on the meaningful recollections stirred by those olfactory memories of a grandpa who loved her unconditionally.

Fourteen years ago at the age of seventy-five my dad contracted and nearly died from West Nile Virus. His road back to health was a rigorous one as he spent more than one-hundred days recovering in the hospital. Occupational and physical therapies were both necessary to combat the muscle weakness and pain as a result of the encephalitis that invaded his nervous system.

The treatments allowed my dad to recover quickly mentally but the physical recovery eventually came to a stopping point. Consequently, he was no longer able to walk and was confined to a wheelchair. But instead of living the rest of his life being bitter, angry, and resentful, my dad decided to live as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph. 5:2).

Paul wrote that through us the aroma of the knowledge of Christ is spread in every place. So my dad assumed spreading that aroma included hospital rooms and rehab facilities from his wheel chair. Consequently, his goal was to be the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Cor. 2:14-15).

My dad died a week ago just three months short of his ninetieth birthday. But even at an advanced age and despite trying to manage constant pain, he continued to offer his body as a sacrificial sweet-smelling aroma that was well pleasing to God (Phil. 4:18). He constantly modeled for me what it means to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). So at the end of my life if I prove to be half the man my dad was, then my life will have been a success. And for me to smell like grandpa is now no longer an affront, it’s an aspiration.


10 Responses to “You Smell Like Grandpa!”

  • David Manner Says:

    Hey Will,

    Great to hear from you and thank you for the kind words. Glad you joined my breakout on Saturday. I recorded that session before my dad took a turn for the worse. We had a great response to the virtual conference and met today to discuss the possibilities of doing it again next year. Thanks for praying for my family. Hope your family is doing well.

  • Will Thompson Says:

    Well said, David. Though I didn’t know your father, I have a pretty good idea of his character from knowing you. So glad you have his aroma. I was a part of your breakout session for the “Resourcing Worship” virtual conference last Saturday. I enjoyed it very much, and took furious notes. I remember you referenced your father and his West Nile infection, but I don’t remember that you said he had passed away. Praying for you, friend!

  • David Manner Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Lisa.

  • Lisa Sullivan Says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your dad! Praying comfort for you as you cling to the knowledge that you will see him again one day.

  • David Manner Says:


    Yes, indeed, we do have big shoes to fill. Our dads have certainly left a legacy.

  • Duane Hines Says:

    David, this reminds me of my own father. He fiercely struggled physically the last half of his life, yet he didn’t let that stop him from being salt and light to everyone around him, even to those who are believers. We have BIG shoes to fill for sure! What an encouraging reminder. Thanks, and praying for you and your family during this time!

  • David Manner Says:

    Thanks, John. I appreciate your encouragement today.

  • David Manner Says:

    Chad, thanks for the kind words. It is great to hear from you. Hope you and your family are doing well.

  • Chad Lauber Says:

    David, I’m sorry for your loss, but what a powerful legacy your father has left you, and all of us for that matter, thank you so much for sharing how he faithfully glorified the Lord while able to do so on this earth.

  • john shields Says:

    I am sorry for your loss AND blessed by hearing of your father’s legacy. I don’t know what your dad smelled like, but Jesus’ smell is strong in you. Thanks for sharing this.

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