Tuesday, March 28, 2006
This is a thank you card that Granddad wrote about three weeks ago to Caleb. I keep reading it and, well, I think he really meant it when he said he was doing very well. I couldn't help but smile a little because this is so typical of my granddad. Despite a long list of health problems, the treatments of which often worked against one another, Granddad almost always remained in amazingly good spirits. Granddad lived, and lived well I might add, to be 82 on everything other than good health. Not that he didn't mind his exercise and eating habits (my grandmother saw to that), he just had had heart trouble ever since I can remember. Several years ago I asked him how he was getting along after a recent surgery. I think this is the one where they put in the defibrulator. He jokingly complained, "The doctor told me I'd be able to play golf! But I'm going back to speak to him because my golf game is just like it was before this surgery."
Now it seems he is with us for just a bit more time--enough time for us to say goodbye.
I know that heaven will overwhelm us. That it is a realm beyond our imagination, but I can't help but think that it won't seem so foreign to my Granddad; he has carved out a place on this earth where heaven dwells. I recall the visits I made to the "Browder B&B" when I was in college. A few times I brought friends and they still ask how my grandparents are doing. He worked diligently at a local food bank, roared at Lions' Club meetings, supported the local football team, the same football team he had played on about 65 years ago. But all of these are details of a man who showed genuine interest in other people. Granddad never met a stranger and towards the end of his life that wasn't just a saying. I can't count the number of times he could make a connection with someone. He would strike up a conversation with a random stranger and find out that he knew their grandmother's neighbor from when the grandmother lived in Houston.
No, heaven will not be a foreign place for him, only a greater measure of what he gave us here on earth. Now, perhaps selfishly, I take some measure of comfort in knowing that he has left a wonderful legacy--I will still spend Christmas and Easter and various other family gatherings with people that have been endowed with my grandfather's personality. His sense of humor and warmth and humility have been passed down to or perhaps soaked up by his descendants and our family gatherings help us glimpse the way God originally intended us to live.
At the end, when a wonderful person, someone who through their generosity and hospitality and unselfishness embodies a picture of heaven, well, we just want to keep them here a little while longer. But I know that soon he will fit seemlessly into a place that treasures those who laugh easily, give abundantly, and serve one another graciously and humbly. God, in his compassion, had allowed us a time to visit, and a time to say good bye. Now I need a greater measure of faith to know that this goodbye is only for a little while.