I am a very blessed woman.
I live in America, in relative peace.
I have a family who loves me, children who are (mostly) healthy whom I adore.
I get to pursue my passions, and enjoy the work I do (on most days–every once in a while I hate it.)
And I’ve gotten to spend three decades of my life with all four of my grandparents living.
Last year, when we returned from Seattle following my son’s bone marrow transplant, I lost my first grandparent the night of our arrival home. I was lucky to be with her when she passed away, to have the chance to say goodbye.
Last night, my family said goodbye to my grandfather on the other side of my family. I was with him, as well, when he went to be with Jesus.
He was 94.
As I hugged my aunts, uncle, grandmother, and cousin, we were able to reminisce a little about the life he lived. He was born in rural North Carolina. Had several brothers and sisters. Served in the Pacific Theater of WWII. Married my grandmother before the end of the war, celebrating 69 years earlier this year. Worked for the post office. Raised my father and his siblings. Could be very loving, but just as cantankerous. He was a bit eccentric, and many things we did, many of us in the family shook our heads over. But he loved us, and adored my son, calling him his buddy.
In recent years, he’d gone down hill, and for many years, I’ve wondered if he’d see another birthday, another Christmas, another wedding anniversary with Grandma. I’d held out hope he’d get to celebrate 70 years together with Grandma next year, but it wasn’t to be.
While I remember the cantankerous man who could snap at us grandkids, I also remember him and Grandma gardening with me, tending their cows, and taking me on rides on their property and picking wildflower bouquets for me along the way. One of my fondest memories is knowing that every night, both he and my Grandma would read the Bible. I have no idea how many times they’ve read it through, but that has always been a stand-out memory of him (and her.) Every Sunday that I was at their place, we’d go to church, almost without fail. And he took my family and me to see the Passion Play when I was 5 or so.
We’ll say our final goodbyes next week. In the meantime, I will be reflecting on my memories of him. Hopefully, a few more I’d forgotten about will surface as I talk with my family.
Go hug your family. If you’re blessed enough to have grandparents with you, be sure to tell them how much you love them today. I’m glad my final words to him were, “Grandpa, I love you.”
Until next time…