Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Goodbye, Grandpa "B"

Three years ago I sat with my computer and tried to put down what I knew to be true of my Grandma B. Even as we celebrated her life and mourned her death, I sought to weigh down with words the things I remembered about her and how she impacted my life. I've learned that time flows onward- a swift current- and only by being fully present in the moment can we weigh the moments down. My memory is short and words are my paperweights. I wrote that there was much I didn’t know of my grandma, but some things I was certain of.

Now, I try to find words fitting my Grandpa. I realize that I know even less about him than I knew of my grandmother- for while she and I talked he was usually off working on something. However, most of what I know of my grandparents was true of both of them- for they lived as one, sharing ideals and values and life. They never needed much and didn’t want a fuss to be made over them. Grandpa told me that he hoped he wouldn’t need special care in his later years because he didn’t want to “put out” any of his children. He didn’t want anyone to change their plans on his account. He was so much more comfortable with giving than receiving. Grandpa was a humble man who served generously and required little. My grandparents were simple, good people.

I know that my grandparents loved each other… dearly, with a sweet and enduring love. They held hands regularly and often. Grandma would sit on Grandpa’s lap. They would finish each other’s sentences. They worked crossword puzzles together every day. They were generous toward each other. They served each other. Their interactions were laced with kindnesses and tenderness. After Grandma passed away, Grandpa no longer did cross words. So many things just weren’t right without her when they had spent a lifetime becoming one flesh.

Grandma taught me lessons of love by how she loved Grandpa. She spoke of him highly, which taught me respect for my husband, to speak well of him and believe well of him. I learned from her that I should be lavish in affection. She instilled in me a strong belief that the little things I do now, even seemingly small things like holding hands and kissing goodbye, will strengthen my marriage. Grandpa taught me lessons of love by how he loved Grandma. I saw a husband who cared for his wife as he cared for his own body, made sacrifices for her, chose fidelity, and cherished the wife of his youth.

I know that my Grandpa valued family. Just as my grandma looked back on her years with little children in her home as years of blessing, so he valued family time. It was Grandpa who came home for lunch and bathed their young children. Grandpa planned family outings and invested his time and energy into his family. Grandpa wouldn’t hesitate to take a grandchild (or great-grandchild!) on his lap. Even in his late 70s he would carry my children and give them shoulder rides. He genuinely delighted in them and they adored him.

Our family had the privilege of staying for several weeks with Grandpa during the past several summers. Our children looked forward to each evening when Grandpa would get out the ice cream and the cones. He and I would sit on the porch swing and watch the kids circle the driveway on big wheels. If my big boys were lucky, I would let them stay up to watch golf on t.v. with Grandpa. They have great memories of the fire pit in his back yard and playing in the empty lot with him.

Grandpa was a tinkerer. He was often in the basement or the garage, fixing something, improving it, or taking it apart.  He built dollhouses and cradles and seemed to be able to fix anything.

I know that my grandfather believed that staying active was an important part of good health. I know so few adults besides my grandparents that continued working and golfing and vacationing well into their senior years. Grandpa never stopped. He changed his health in his earlier years by changing his diet and his habits. I learned from watching my grandparents that you are as old as you act and that staying active and practicing discipline keeps you healthy.

I know Grandpa valued freedom. He loved to travel the country with Grandma. (Even when she convinced him to stop VA "on the way" back to IL from FL!) He defended freedom in World War II. He was patriotic and yet also felt he didn’t do anything special.

I know my Grandpa trusted the Lord. He and Grandma did Bible studies together. He wasn’t just committed to his church, but he valued God’s word. He spoke to me about hard things their family had endured and how their faith saw them through. Grandpa was certain that Grandma was in heaven with her Savior and he looked forward, every day, to joining them. Oh, he missed her terribly! And yet he also trusted Christ’s good and perfect will. He was confident that God’s promises are true and he had an eternal hope.

And now we are the ones left missing them. Of course, I am happy for Grandpa’s release from hardship, from aches and pains and loneliness. Yet I grieve for those of us here who will miss his stalwart presence and faith. What a good, godly heritage we’ve been given! I know we are so blessed to have had the strong example of a humble, godly man.

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