It’s so hard to believe that one year ago today you said goodbye to this world and passed into the arms of Jesus. I was hundreds of miles away when they called and said you were gone. It was evening, and I went out on a great big beautiful hill in the middle of Michigan, and watched the sunset while I cried tears and talked to God. We had watched and waited and sat there beside you for more than three weeks. We had sung your favorite songs, shared the glorious gospel with you, read you passages from Scripture, fed you meals, talked to you, and watched you slowly slip away. There were times you didn’t know who we were; you saw things that weren’t really there; you cried, and were afraid, and fell out of bed. You asked Jesus to save you and have mercy on you. I got to know you so much better, as my friend, as my grandfather.
It’s been a long time since that day, and somehow still it’s hard for me to understand that you’re really in heaven, because I never saw your eyes close for the last time, never heard your heart stop beating. It felt like a dream. I still picture you tucked into bed back home, watching the birds and flowers outside your window, calling for someone to get you something.
Grandpa, I don’t remember much about you from my growing up years, but what I do is special. I saw you draw beautiful pictures like none I’d ever seen. You told stories about your life that made the past come alive. You made me imagine your childhood as though I had been there. You were kind and sweet and gentle. You taught us new things and patiently worked with us until we mastered the rules of your favorite card game – which we still enjoy as a family.
Those are faint memories from my younger years. The most special memories I have that I cherish, are the last days we spent with you in PA last year – those long days of sitting by your bed, praying, talking to you, sharing Jesus with you. At that time I was afraid and anxious and worn out. It was difficult. I didn’t know what would happen, and how much longer you would have to live. I wasn’t prepared to be away from my family in an unfamiliar place when you passed away. But now looking back, it was such a blessing from God to have that time with you as a family leading up to your farewell. It brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes to hear you talk to God, to witness your humble cry for mercy. When you felt unworthy, the words to your favorite song (Just As I Am) were a constant reminder to you of the Father’s redeeming, saving love! As you lay there suffering in body, troubled and weary, you cried out to Jesus, you thanked Him for His grace. I saw you reach out and receive His gift of eternal life. “Just as I am without one plea; but that Thy blood was shed for me. And that thou bidst me come to Thee, o lamb of God I come, I come.”
God gave me such a deep love for you during those weeks. I sat beside your bed memorizing Psalm 119 out loud, so you would be comforted in your delirious state. I fed you when you could no longer feed yourself, and my heart went out to you. I got to know you better in those weeks. You accepted your physical weakness without complaining. I never heard you murmur about being bedridden or confined to the house. You smiled, and held our hands, and always told us you were doing just fine. My love for you grew so much deeper. I learned so many wonderful lessons from you.
Grandpa, I look forward to the day when we will see you again face to face – with no tears, no pain, no sickness or sorrow. Then we will be reunited with Christ together in heaven. I am filled with joy to know that you will be there. I’m so glad you are not suffering any more. Your pain is gone. You don’t need your oxygen or your bed or your medicines anymore. You don’t have to look outside the window and long to feel the freedom of the fresh air outside. In heaven there is so much joy and beauty. Life is glorious and perfect with Christ. Truly you are at peace.
I love you grandpa. I miss you so much!