It was a great holiday season, lots of food, family, friends and fun, then came a few days that will forever change me…
I was all dressed up- nice pants, nice button up shirt and yes…a tie. Ashley and I had plans for a New Year’s Eve party with our cell group- get all fancied up, go to Jolly Holiday lights, come back to our leader’s house and just have a great time of celebrating and fellowship. Then my phone rang…My grandfather had taken a pretty nasty fall and was in the hospital. I changed out of my clothes and went to my parent’s house where my sister my dad and I took off to the hospital. Upon arriving we found the rest of my family already there with tears in their eyes, I didn’t think much of this as my family is a very emotional one. Besides, I’m the strong one, I couldn’t be seen this way. As I walked back to the emergency room where my grandfather was at, I did not expect to see what I saw. Such a hardworking man, always willing to do whatever it was that needed to be done, in a hospital bed- frail, weak and beaten up badly. Still, I was the tough one, fight back any tears! We stayed with him in that ER room for a while, taking turns holding his hand, stroking his head and just being there with him. Soon he was moved to a different room out of the ER and in the hospital, again we took turns holding his hand and just being there with him…again I fought back any tears I could feel swelling in my eyes. Things looked grim, but reluctantly we decided to leave for the night and return early the next morning.
One thought haunted me all night long-”I hadn’t made enough of an effort to go visit Grandpa and Grandma”. I rarely went to their house to see them, I rarely sat down and let them tell me stories, I wasn’t the grandson I knew I should have been. All this was to my shame, and the Lord had shown me what a selfish, prideful, stupid man I had been. Walking into the hospital there was a very heavy feeling, a feeling that would continue during the day. Grandpa had taken a turn for the worse, and the inevitable was working it’s course. I was able to bring myself to go into his room, albeit for short lengths. I just couldn’t bring myself to stay in there for a long time, and see this once hardworking man in this bed while at Death’s door. During all this though…I had to stay tough, no tears, and I was succeeding. I walked back into his room and sat with my mom and sister, it was silent-a comforting silence. Then my mom told me about a conversation she had with my grandfather a while ago. She talked of how he was proud of me, and how special it was to have me come across the parking lot at church and tell him and my grandma that I loved them. I had been struggling still with that thought-”I hadn’t made enough of an effort to go visit Grandpa and Grandma”. The flood gates opened, and the tears started rolling down my face. Despite my shortcomings as a grandson, and not being more loving-he was proud of me. That thought still gets me, and it’s hard not to hurt over that. Just like my Godly grandfather loved me despite my not taking more time to get to know him, so God himself loves us. What an amazing thing how God can use such a heartbreaking event to show me these truths about Him. Anyways, as we sat there by my Grandpa’s side I shared my feelings of not being a better grandson with my mom, to which she replied that grandpa obviously didn’t feel that way and he loved me no matter what. With this heavy feeling that I had since coming to the hospital we sat there a few more minutes before my Grandpa started taking fewer and fewer breaths. I had the privilege to stand by my Grandfather’s side as he took his final breath on Earth, and know that he was now in Glory with his Savior.
The heavy feeling was gone, there was a feeling of relief that fell over me. I was so sad over my grandpa’s passing, but I was so happy for him to be in Heaven with no more pain or suffering. It was the truest from of bitter-sweet I have ever experienced. I still struggled with thinking about how I didn’t take more time to get to know him. I shared a bit of this struggle with my grandma at the viewing, to which she said that was the devil working in our minds and I am a great grandson that they are very proud of. I tell you that helps, but I still wish my grandpa was here for me to tell him that. I know he is in Heaven though, and I know he can hear me tell him that. I guess I just want his approval of me as a grandson, but that will have to wait until I get that approval from him in Heaven.
If I could give anyone a piece of advice it would be this, don’t wait. There are things you should do, places you should go, people you should be around, so don’t wait. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so get out there and live life, do the things you know you should even if they aren’t at the top of the list for you.
And Grandpa…I love you so much, and maybe throw some of your talent my way as I try and take over the stained glass for you!