on wednesday morning of our trip, at one am, i believe my grandpa w. went home to be with Jesus. i can't know his heart, but i can Hope, because i know Hope himself. i couldn't write or even really process the passing until now, because i wanted to tell my children in person.
in memory of him, i wrote a few words that can be shared at the memorial i cannot attend.
I teased Grandpa that he was a skinny, ornery man. Even as wiry as he was, he could squeeze the life out of you if he wanted. He could fix anything and never minded if he got a cut or two along the way… I can remember him working on some project in the garage with a purple thumb from a stray hammer blow – and that didn’t slow him down.
I lived with him and Grandma for a time, and for a while I had an early-morning paper route. Each morning in winter, he’d get up while it was still dark, and make me a hot breakfast for when I came home… bacon, eggs, tomato, cream of wheat… and on really cold mornings he jumped in the car and “drove” the route with me… hopping out every few houses to throw a paper himself. One morning I looked up to see the car heading into the edge of a yard, and Grandpa chasing it… in his tiredness, he’d forgotten to throw the car into park!
Grandpa taught me how to make my favorite toast topping to this day – the perfect mixture of peanut butter and honey, which you have to spread onto each individual bite to get the best taste!
I loved standing at the kitchen window with him and eating a tomato he’d grown, right off the vine. I used to say, “You can taste the sun and dirt.”
I loved seeing Grandpa dressed in his Sunday suit to usher at church, and although he would let us hear the car horn when Grandma and I took too long, I have seen him teary-eyed at a particularly moving church service.
He’s the one who taught me that “on time” is 10 minutes early. He did NOT want to be late to a church service, but he was more than willing to sit on a mall bench for HOURS while Grandma shopped till she dropped with whomever would join her (and Grandma can out-shop anyone I know). We’d come back to find him chatting away with whatever new friend he’d made in his free time.
Grandpa always made me feel like he had “a soft spot” for me – Grandma told him he did – and I soaked it up. But all the same, he wouldn’t hesitate to “let me have it” if I was a disrespectful teenager. I suspect he made lots of people feel he had a “soft spot” for them… even the staff at the dialysis center smiled when the saw “Tom Williams” coming.
He never met a stranger. On one visit to Florida he played in a golf tournament ministry fundraiser my husband organized. Because we were working the event, Brian assigned grandpa to a foursome with men he didn’t know; I think those men had the most fun of anyone who played that day.
At my wedding, it was an honor to have Grandpa lay hands on us, and join with the men in our family to pray a blessing over our marriage.
More recently, my memories of Grandpa come from visits he and Grandma were able to make to our home in Florida. As someone who loves to cook, I especially loved that when he came to visit, he acted like my cooking was something worth eating; it felt good to see him go back for seconds. Even after he was sick, he made it a point to eat two helpings of dinner.
I am especially thankful that my children got the chance to know Grandpa. Although he loved each of them (and they, him, as well!), Ethan (“that ornery one,” he called him,) was his favorite… he would snuggle up to Grandpa every chance he got.
One of my most recent memories is of a morning during their visit when we were doing a homeschool assignment around the dining room table with Grandma and Grandpa there. As I had prayed might happen, Grandpa launched into a series of stories about Model “T” cars and the first man on the moon – from his own life’s memories. What better lessons could great-grandchildren have than real-life history from someone who’d lived it?
These are just memories I have of time with Grandpa. The neatest thing for me is knowing that there are countless other people who have glowing stories of ways he encouraged them, made them laugh, made them feel important, or was just a sweet “ornery, skinny man” they were privileged to know. You will be missed, Grandpa. We love you.
i shared memories of funny, and poignant, and sweet times i had with him. i wrote nice things that can be read aloud and make people feel good to have known him. they are all true things, and i believe it is important for people to have these things to hold on to. but they aren't all my heart longs to say.
there are some who sarcastically accuse "mombloggers" of writing all rosy-cheeked portraits of "the perfect life." for me, i blog partly as a way to help myself hold on to what is real, worth remembering... i blog as i think my Papa wants me to see the life He gives. well, for a moment, no one can accuse me of being rosy-cheeked, or rosy-shaded, as i write how i really feel.
i am not just sad to see my grandpa go. i am sad for the moments lost while he was here, in the shadowlands. i am sad for sin-nature, or brokenness, or immaturity, or dysfunction... call it what you will... that prevents the sweetness of true relationship. i am sad for lack of courage of conviction to stand up for what is right. i am sad for leniency, and over-strictness... for "easy grace" and bad theology that makes us think God is desirous to bargain with us, or willing to forsake us, or needs our "being good" to be God. i am sad that even in the midst of the loss of another's life, selfishness prevails and it becomes all about "me..." for many of the "me's" involved.
i am sad for my inability to be Grace, and my own personal relationship-loss, and "the sins of the fathers," and our broken view of who Papa really is.
it is bittersweet - this week of Dancing with my Papa, and renewing romance with my mate, and falling in love again with my Love and the earth and my maker - and in the midst of it being reminded that this is, after all, only the Shadowlands. earthly love is but a broken mirror, whose shattered shards reflect True Love only dimly.
i will miss my grandpa. but i will miss more dearly what was not, because we are not yet all we were Created to be.