Friday, May 08, 2009

My Grandpa

It's been just under 2 months since my Mom's funeral, and today I'm preparing for my Grandpa's. I think my perspective on funerals has changed a bit. I now want to embrace them as a way to honor the person who has passed away (since both my mother and grandfather were godly, honorable people), and to glorify God for the work of grace He has done in their lives and through their lives. I won't have a part in Grandpa's funeral, since I am one of 30 grandkids (the baby I'm expecting will be the 35th great-grandchild), but I do want to honor Grandpa here on my blog.

Grandpa was always a gentle giant to me. It was amazing how he still seemed like that in my recent adult years when he'd become so much more slight in size, and not much taller than me anymore. His deep rumbling voice always called my dad "Billy", and I loved to hear him talk to my big dad like he was still a kid. My dad and his siblings modeled for the grandkids the way to honor and respect our grandparents. We did not EVER ignore them or any request they gave, and we dropped our silly childishness when Grandpa or Grandma was speaking to us -- only real, honest answers were necessary, no displays for attention. I think it was easy to respond to them like that, because they seemed worthy of real respect. I've seen many of my cousins treating my grandparents in the exact same way, so I know many of us feel this way.

My Grandpa was a godly man. His favorite song was the Doxology, which we always sang before meals and family gatherings. Last September he turned 90, and we had a birthday party for him. The big cake was decorated with the words of the Doxology. It was the only time I ever heard people sing the "amen" at the end of a song when I was a kid. If I was standing near my parents when we sang, I could hear my mom harmonizing the "amen". Grandpa was always proud to hear us quoting scripture (Luke 2, every Christmas!), and loved singing old hymns.

A recent favorite memory, which I'm sure I'll always treasure as precious was when Grandpa came to Illinois for my mom's funeral, just a couple months ago. The Lord blessed him with extra strength and good health for the trip, and we enjoyed time with Grandpa, a bit more like the old days. One evening Grandpa asked for a songbook, and my aunt brought it to me to sing with him. I sat on the couch by him with my niece Cede, and we flipped through that book, singing every song we recognized. I was so hoarse since it was the day after Mom's funeral, and had been a little sick and things, but I would never have stopped singing (besides, Grandpa didn't seem to mind). My sister Abby recorded a tiny bit with her camera phone -- me and Grandpa singing "Mansion Over the Hilltop". :)

I'm so glad for setting aside a couple days where you really don't have to do anything besides reflect and consider the goodness of Christ in the life of the loved one lost. I know funerals aren't always that sort of bittersweet celebration -- for those who die without Christ, it is only mourning and pain. I am thankful to the utmost to think about how my Grandpa (and my mom) are in Heaven, rejoicing before the throne.

And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete,
Jesus died my soul to save, my lips shall still repeat!
Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe,
Sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.


Elizabeth said...

Very nice Gretchen. A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. It will be nice to see you (and your baby bump!!) in a few hours.

JessicaB said...

What precious memories God has given you with a man who sounds like such a blessing.

Anonymous said...

I am so blessed by how many saw so many amazing things in my Dad. Thank you for sharing with all of us. I also again felt such strength and peace with Dad's funeral as well as with your Mom's when we are all together. Just imagine heaven!
Love you, Aunt Diane

Fran R. said...

I am so sorry to hear about your grandpa. What a blessing for him to have a family like yours.

Tina and Todd said...

Gretchen .... I am reminded again of what a blessed heritage you have!!!! I always thought it was so awesome that you are a 4th(am I right) generation believer!! I am reminded of a STEVE GREEN song:) O May All Who Come Behind Us Find Us come from a family who has been faithful. I am blessed to know you!