Not long ago when I started this blog I bragged that I still had 5 living grandparents.
Sadly, I spoke too soon.
Two days ago, my beloved Grandpa (my dad’s step-dad) passed away quietly and painlessly in his home surrounded by family. A few years ago, while we were in Thailand, he had a stroke and we returned to find a great, gentle, funny man quite altered. He hasn’t been the same since. And as with so many who suffer strokes, it was one difficult challenge after another, until finally this week he decided to throw in the towel. We couldn’t blame him, but it is always so hard for those left behind.
I spoke to my Grandma yesterday on the phone. She said that she told him “Whenever the Lord wants to take you, He will take you. That’s ok. But I would really like to go with you.” Then she said with a laugh, “I guess the Lord wanted me to stay here.”
I couldn’t imagine.
My husband reminds me of my Grandpa a great deal, actually. They are both rather quiet people. Not loud and obnoxious like the rest of us in the family! They don’t really care what people think or what people say about them. They know who they are and where they are going and don’t feel the need to spout on and on about it.
Grandpa was always this solid rock sitting at the head head of the dinner table- presiding, if you will. We were busy laughing, carrying on, even dancing on the chairs and he would just sit back with a big grin on his face. As if absorbing all the love in the room full of his precious family.
He and my husband both would be content to sit quietly and watch a football game or look out the window and think. But boy, when they speak up. You want to hear what they’re saying!
See, I fell in love with my husband for many reasons. And one of them was he made me laugh. Not in an obnoxious way, but he is just clever and funny and has good timing. And if I would be quiet long enough, he also speaks wisdom and passion from his heart. Too many people miss the depth of people like my husband and as a result, they miss how funny he is too.
So was my grandpa. I loved that so much about him! He would be sitting there solemnly, looking at his cards or playing quietly. Chuckling at our jokes and antics. But then, out of nowhere, his mouth would open and the most hilarious stuff would come out. Perfectly timed. Immensly clever and funny. Delivered in such a serious tone that you weren’t expecting it and soon we’d all be rolling on the floor.
I also love these men because when I am with them they emulate something. I can’t describe it. In their solemnity and seriousness there is a peace about them that transcends words. I wrote a letter to my Grandma trying to explain this feeling. But in plain words, my Grandpa was a man of strong, unwavering Faith. And as far back as I can remember (note that he is the only man I have ever seen my Grandma with, so he was really a full-fledged third Grandpa to me my entire life! so blessed!) he has been a solid rock of faith in my family.
Maybe it was the fact that he prayed passionately before every meal we had at their house. Maybe it was the matter-of-fact way he spoke about God. Maybe it was his love and concern for his church and their friends. Perhaps it was his sweet face singing a deep bass line in the Easter Cantata. Whatever it was, I have always known that my Grandpa knew God and loved God with all of his heart.
Which makes this a very bittersweet week. While we have lost a great man in so many ways, I know that he has gained what his heart has always desired. I know without a doubt that he is home and with his Lord.
You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to believe me. But I know what I know and I am convinced of this. It is not some vision I have conjured up to make me feel better about my Grandpa dying. It is a truth deep in my soul that I have been certain of since he bounced me on his knee at Christmas in the old Victorian farmhouse on the corner.
And I can only pray that one day our grandchildren will feel this same peace from us. That they will know our hearts. That they will see where our lives are planted. And may they find safety and security and overwhelming love in our presence simply because of the God we serve.