This past Friday afternoon, I received a phone call from my dad, waking me up from my afternoon nap, letting me know that my grampa had just passed away. Strangely enough, after hanging up, and coming back to reality, I felt a strange sense of relief. I’m aware, that sounds a little harsh… let me explain.
Growing up, I loved my grandparents. I have memories of going over at their house, often with my brother and sister. I remember loving spending time with them.
My grampa always wanted to be a part of our lives. He would play with us, and take us out for ice cream , or read us books for hours and hours, simply because it delighted us (and because I believe he delighted in us). Growing up, we never questioned whether he loved us, or whether or not he prayed for us, or if he was proud of us, simply because he wasn’t afraid to tell us. As long as I can remember, he actively loved us through his words and through his actions. I don’t remember a time that I saw him where he didn’t tell me how much he loved me, how he was praying for me, and how much he was proud of me.
My grampa loved people, he loved serving others. He loved praying, and he loved listening. He genuinely cared what was going on in the lives of others. He was a man of his word. If he told you something you could count on the fact that he would do exactly what he said he was going to do. I remember visiting him and often hearing about the lives of his nurses, about old friends, and what other family members were up to.
My grampa was a tease. He had sort of a natural kind of humor. It seemed as if he didn’t really have to try to be funny, he would just slip in a word or two, or perhaps a story at the most opportune moment… Just enough to lighten the mood, and bring a smile to your face. You could always tell when he was teasing, because you could see it in his eyes.
My grampa loved my gramma, and was faithfully married to her for 56 years. He called her his darlin’. My grampa loved his family. He delighted in them, he was proud of them. He always spoke highly of them.
I have never heard a harsh word towards anyone come out of that man’s mouth. He spoke well of people. He honored others. You could trust him, knowing that your name was safe in his mouth. People knew they could go to him for advice, for prayer, for support, or simply if they just needed someone to listen to them. He was good at that. I remember him telling me about how he was sharing his faith with one of his nurses, and giving her his bible so she could get to know Jesus too.
Unfortunately, a couple years ago, my grampa’s health started declining rather quickly. Over the past couple years, he had lost the ability to breathe completely on his own, and had to be tube fed. He was in pain and exhausted, constantly, and eventually had to be moved into an assisted living facility where he spent most of his time either in his room, or in his chair. He depended on others to care for him, and depended on others to visit him .
Even though my grampa lost most of his physical freedom, he still did many of the same things he’d always done. He didn’t become bitter, and I never heard him complain. He constantly prayed for his those in his realm of influence, his family, his friends, his caregivers, and anyone else he came in contact with that needed prayer. He always found different ways to connect with people, different ways to honor others. On one occasion, he acquired a map, and found out where each of his caregivers lived, and asked my father to drive him to their houses so he could picture where they resided.
Grampa loved Jesus a lot. I know he dreamed of the day when he got to see Jesus, face to face. I know he dreamed of the day he got to breathe and walk on his own, the day he got to eat a steak again. Grampa dreamed of the day he got to experience what it’s like to live in a place uneffected, untainted by sin.
I miss my grampa. I loved him. And it kills me to see how lonely my gramma feels without him. But- I am so happy for him. He’s waited a longtime to meet Jesus, He’s been in pain for so long. And now- he’s finally free to live, untainted by sin, unaffected by physical limitations.