I knew when I heard my dad’s message that something was wrong, I could hear it in his voice. I didn’t expect to hear the news I did though. Grandpa had collapsed, he is in the ER and it doesn’t look good.
Just a few hours earlier grandpa had commented on a photo I had posted on Facebook. Can I just tell you how much I loved that my 88 year old grandpa was on Facebook?! It just didn’t seem possible that this was happening.
I went home and told the kids that we needed to pray. My Elijah was so upset. He asked if he could write a letter to his great grandpa and then he drew him a picture of the two of them together. He was worried about great grandma because she would be alone.
At 7:25pm on Monday September 21st, my grandpa Paul left this world for the arms of Jesus. His legacy remains on in his family, but we are heartbroken and shocked and hurting right now.
It still seems impossible really as I write this. Knowing that inevitably this day would come for all of us, doesn’t make it any easier. How do you possibly honor a man than has made such an impact in our lives?
I am not sure that I can do it justice, but I want to try.
Trips to Chicago City were a highlight of my childhood. While the drive was LONG, the reward at the end was going up the long driveway to the big blue house that grandpa and grandma lived in.
If it were early enough we would run down the hill to go fishing off the dock. Grandpa would go with us out into the wooded area by the boat house and help us dig for earth worms. And when we would haul the stuffed pail back up the hill, grandpa would get out his filet knife and cutting board and set up shop over the washing machine and set to work.
He was meticulous about cleaning the fish and would describe what he was doing. I remember the skill with which he took care of the fish, I have even tried to replicate it…but no one could clean fish like grandpa.
Often my siblings and I would stay for a week or more without our parents. During the work week grandpa would get up early and was all dressed up in his dress shirt and tie and walk down the driveway to meet his carpool ride. Can I just talk a minute about the ties…oh the ties he had. He had more ties than I have shoes! 🙂 In his room and even in the closet in the basement. I loved looking at all of those ties when we would visit.
In the evenings we would run down to wait for him to be dropped back off and escort him home. Grandpa always had a story to tell us about his day and we felt special to just be a part of it.
Christmas brought the tradition of opening gifts and the reading of the Christmas story. Grandpa would let us open 1 present each, in order of our age. As a young child that was torture…waiting our turn especially when grandpa’s turn came because it meant he would get out his pocket knife and carefully open the present, saving the paper for a future use. It took him a lifetime to open one gift! 🙂
And then once presents were done he would get out his bible and read us the Christmas story from Luke. Grandpa had a strong faith and while I don’t think I recognized it or appreciated it as a child…I am so grateful for that today. What I wouldn’t give right now to have a recording of him reading the Christmas story.
Grandpa was a writer and I like to think that my love of writing comes in part from him. About 3 1/2 years ago grandpa and I started communicating more and more. Through emails we kept in touch in ways that we hadn’t in the past.
I know I didn’t save all of them, but I went through them and found that I had saved over 150 different conversations. Sometimes he had encouragement to offer, other times an inspiring story and at times well thought out, detailed advice to consider following. 😉
I came across a post he had sent some of our family back in 2013. It was a story about his own father. He shared the challenges his father faced but also the unique ways that those challenges shaped his life. The blessings that came from them.
He ended the email with this…”I see the hand of God in all of this. We can never fully understand His plans for us or for our lives. Instead we must trust that He will always be with us, even during those times that give us cause to question.”
This faith, this hope, was something that was such an encouragement to Dominic and I when we started Dominic’s business. Grandpa and grandma offered their prayers and support in so many ways during that time. Grandpa believed 100% that Dominic would be successful if he just got things going.
He came to us with an offer of a loan. We typed up a promissory note and made it official. He sent emails asking about the business and had ideas for marketing and a website. He loved hearing about how things were going and was one of our biggest cheerleaders.
If I were discouraged, he would encourage me to trust God and have hope. He believed God had a plan for us and he trusted in it. He told me that he prayed for me daily. I hope that my faith life always reflects such faith and hope and a commitment to prayer for those I love.
I am grateful that grandpa and grandma were able to celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary last week. That they got to visit their church and reminisce over all God had done in their family over the years. There were pictures taken and good food enjoyed and memories made.
I don’t know why grandpa’s life had to end this way, this unexpectedly. I am heartbroken for grandma and my mom and aunts and uncle. I want to fix it, make it better and I can’t.
I want to wrap this up with some wonderful words of wisdom that will make everyone feel better…I just don’t know that I can do that. But I believe, just like grandpa did, that God is with us.
Grandpa loved his bride and his family and would want us to celebrate the fact that he is now with Jesus. His strong faith in God promised that for those who placed their trust in God as he did, death was not the end.
So I celebrate my grandpa today. I thank God for the blessing he was to so many and the light and laughter he brought into my life. And in his own words I end with this…
I see the hand of God in all of this. We can never fully understand His plans for us and for our lives. Instead we must trust that He will always be with us, even during times that give us cause to question.
My prayer for everyone in our family would be that we would feel God’s covering of peace during this time, that we would love and encourage one another and that we would celebrate the life of a man worthy of honor.
Grandpa you loved well and are loved. You will be remembered through laughter and tears and while your physical presence will be missed your impact and legacy will always remain.