Posts Tagged ‘Death’

Dear Grandpa

04.15.12

Dear Grandpa,

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!

Love,

Sarah

Journey into Eternal Life – 5 Weeks in PA

04.22.11

On Tuesday morning March 15th, I left in the early morning for Asheville, NC (2.5 hours away,) for a doctor’s appointment having been assured by my Dad’s hospice nurse that things were stable. At 3:00 PM, my brother called saying, “You’d better get up here… now.” We were on our way home, approaching Gastonia which is 45 minutes from our house. My brother put the hospice nurse on the phone, and she said to drive through the night. I called home and made an action plan with the children. Thankfully, we had gotten a lot of the necessary things together already and they were on a big pile on the bonus room floor, and all our clothes were picked out and set aside in a section of our closets. All we had to do was throw everything in suitcases and get together the “last minute” things, of which there are a lot with a family of our size. My friend Dominica offered to drive up with us to keep us awake during the night. When we pulled in the driveway, my amazing children (trained by my amazing organizer husband,) had most of our luggage, sleeping bags, etc. already on a pile in the kitchen, and were well underway getting other things together. We were out the door by 6:30, and after getting gas, picking up Dominica, and stopping by Taco Bell drive through, were on the road to PA by 7:15 – Whew. Things went well through the night driving, and we rolled into my parent’s driveway about 6:45 AM Wednesday March 16th (Dave’s birthday – he was in Michigan at the Dad’s Journey to the Heart.) When we arrived, Dad was awake and interactive, and said he was glad we were there. He had rallied. We made our greetings, and collapsed all over the living room for a few hours. This was the beginning of my  Dad’s final stage of his journey from life to eternal life.

In the coming weeks, it became apparent that dad was on a 3 part cycle. He would be disoriented, talking about things that were not really happening and sometimes talking to people who were not there. Then he would become emotional, crying, asking for people, apologizing for things, tormented over past regrets and feeling unworthy and undeserving of heaven. The only word to describe it is torment, and it was heartbreaking. Then he would pass into a more normal stage with alternating sleep and alert times with conversation and humor. Every time around the cycle we would think, “This is it, it’s over,” but then he would rally. After a couple weeks, I began to have some really confusing feelings. I was glad to be there with my parents, did not want my Dad to die, but knew it was inevitable… time was marching on, I was cancelling more and more appointments at home, the girls were getting ready to leave for Journey to the Heart and I wanted them to be there for the funeral, the situation was stressful (really stressful dynamics there,) and I wanted it to be over – his suffering, the stress… but I didn’t want it to be over !?!?!?!?!?!? One moment I felt guilty that I wanted it to be over, the next It felt right for it to need to be over. This was a really hard time for me.

My biggest burden was the torment my Dad felt about his past. He was a man with a lot of regrets about his life. I was not fully sure he was truly saved. One minute I told myself, “If he were not saved, he would not mourn so over his sin.” The next minute I would be thinking, “He believes in works righteousness, and nobody can be saved through that.” I cried out to God for assurance of his salvation.  Each time he went through the tormented part of the cycle, I would try talk to him, telling him about Jesus and the love of God for him. About the end of the third week, he had one of those times. I reminded him of his favorite hymn, “Just As I Am,” and went through it with him phrase by phrase. I told him it is a gift, not to be earned, but simply accepted. I explained what it means to be robed in Christ’s righteousness. I told him that none of us is worthy apart from the death of Christ. He cried out, “Jesus, Jesus, can you forgive ME?” Then he got quiet and slept for awhile. He moved on to the awake alert part of the cycle, and nothing was said. Hannah and Sarah left for Journey on the 9th. The next time he went into the emotional part of the cycle, he said, “My cup runneth over, I don’t deserve it, but my cup runneth over.” His torment had been replaced by basking in the goodness of God to an undeserving sinner.

During that last week, he slept a lot. During his awake times he seemed pretty peaceful. At one point he told me he had asked God to take care of his soul a few months earlier, so I did not need to worry about that. The rest of that week, there were no more tormented episodes. The night before he passed, unknown to me, my brother had a feeling it would be that night and he put a tiny picture on my Dad’s pillow above his head. I did not know it, but it was a picture my Dad had carried in his wallet. My brother had found it and thought is must have been special to my father. It was a picture of Jesus on the cross with a cherub hovering over each hand that was bound to the cross. It was a really old picture. That morning, (the 15th of April,) my bother woke me at 5:30 AM and motioned for me to come. The fastest way to my Dad’s room was through his bathroom, and when I got there my Mom and Brother were standing in the bathroom and my brother said, “Check him out.” I went into the room and it seemed he was not breathing. I called my Mom and told her to talk to him and to say goodbye and give him a kiss. Using a stethascope, I confirmed that there was no heartbeat, and his eyes were not responsive to light. He was still warm. We all said goodbye and took off the oxygen tube that he had been imprisoned to for so many years and turned off the noisy oxygen machine. The silence was deafening! His eyes were closed and a peaceful expression was on his face. The nurse later told us that meant he had passed peacefully while sleeping. She said if he had been gasping for breath or fearful, his eyes would most likely have been open and there would have been a strained expression on his face. This was further assurance, an answer to my specific prayers.

During all the time of vigil and waiting, all the up and down, I often asked myself, “Why is it happening like this? Why is it taking so long? Why does he have to suffer so? How many more cycles? Now, in reflection I know why! During those weeks, he went from torment to peace. Somewhere in there he came to experience the goodness and love of God. I don’t know if he was not saved and became saved, or if he was saved and was just full of regret and fear, or what. What I do know is that me and my children witnessed an amazing transformation. It is an amazing thing to see a man go from tormented to basking in the goodness of God. I thank God that He allowed me and my children to be a part of it all. As daunting as it was, I will always look back on that time with fondness and gratitude. It was a precious time.

Friday evening Dave arrived. We were all glad to be reunited after more than 4 weeks of being apart. Sunday was the viewing and memorial service. I had an opportunity to share about my Dad. I explained that he was a generous man, giving away any extra even though he was never a man of means, often struggling to make ends meet. I shared that I’ve often told my children, “If we were Amish, Grand-pop would be the first one to  sign up for a barn raising!”  I explained that he was a simple man who did not fret and worry, always saying, “Just take one day at a time, tomorrow has enough trouble of its own.” He did not tend to hold grudges or be bitter. I shared the words to a hymn that reminded me of him. Then I went through his favorite hymn (“Just As I Am”) phrase by phrase, explaining what it really meant and why I thought it was so meaningful to my Dad. I never realized until that day how clearly the gospel is presented in that hymn. It is amazing how often you can sing a hymn and understand it and yet not realize the depths of its meaning. Things like this really get you thinking.

On Monday, we took Mom to Lancaster County (Amish country,) for a day out, (something she had not had “worry free” in at least 2 years.) First we went to a Mennonite run Smorgasbord for breakfast, then we visited their HUGE gift shop, went to several other sites and headed home. On Tuesday there was a graveside service only for family. It was very short, and it rained. We then all went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. When we got back to the house my family began to round up our belongings and clean up for our departure the next morning. On Wednesday morning the 20th, (five weeks after leaving for PA,) we set out for home. I was weary and everything seemed a blur. It felt like any minute I would wake up from a dream and none of this would have been real. We missed spring this year. We left Charlotte with the red-buds blooming and leaves about to burst and we left PA with exactly the same conditions only to arrive in Charlotte at 7:00 PM and a steamy 80 degrees. As we drove home that day, I saw spring in “fast forward.” Early spring in PA to mid spring in VA, to virtual summer in Charlotte. That is how my life has felt this last 5 weeks. A fast forward blur.

Now it is time to reflect and recover. In the grand scheme of things I know some of what this was all about. It was about serving my family. It was about doing my small part in helping my father obtain a peaceful end. It was about being a living testimony of how a true servant of God should live. It was about making sure the gospel was shared at his memorial service. It was about my children learning to die to themselves and serve their elders and help each other. It was about realizing how good God has been to us and to my Dad. It was about answers to prayer. It was about building extended family relationships. It was about experiencing the body of Christ holding each other up, (many thanks to all of you who prayed, called, and took up the slack on the home front for us,) most of all, it was about experiencing the mighty hand of God. For all of this, I am grateful!

 

A Picture Tribute – Harold Badman – My Dad

04.22.11

Baby Harold

6 years old

Teen Hunter

Soldier during WWII

Soldier during WWII

Groom

4 Generations

Mom, Dad and Karl

 

Holiday gathering

Walking me down the aisle

Dad and Dave

Grand-pop with Hannah, her thumb and her blanket

Grand-pop and Hannah giving us "thumbs" up

Dad in hospital - Elisabeth's passing

Dad and David after Elisabeth's funeral

Dad and David after Elisabeth's funeral

Dad, Mom and Bethany

Bethany with Grand-pop - wearing his hat

Dad, Mom, Hannah, Sarah, David, and Bethany

 

Mom and Dad

Dad and his generations before Timmy was born

Our family with Mom and Dad (before Timmy)

Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary-renewing vows

Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary

 

Dad's 86th B-day bedside

Dad's 86th B-day

Dad's 86th Birthday bedside

Dad's 86th Birthday bedside

Dad's 86th B-day "cake" (pineapple delight) July 2010

Dad's 86th B-day July 2010

 

We will miss you Dad! We Love You!

 

Life as it is – Day Twenty

04.05.11

Swinging 

Pretending to do "real work"   Riding the "dozer" with Uncle Curt  Clearing brush

School, Play, Sleep...   Coloring   

What he calls "making big eyes"   Fun with Sharpie markers

Gray skies, and a little snow   "Brotherly fun"

   In the air on the tree swing

   Finishing a job

Feeling small   Journaling

Memorizing Psalm 119   Baking

Special treats   Games

Rummikub  

It's more fun to ride with someone than alone!  

Being outside   Taking drives through the country

20 days ago we left home and drove to PA to visit our grandparents. The hospice nurse that is caring for our grandfather (who has advanced emphysema), called and told us there was a good chance he would not live out the night. It was evening, but we decided to leave right away. (Except for Daddy who was at the Father’s Journey to the Heart program.) Because we had been anticipating a last-minute trip to PA, we just needed to throw together some last minute things that had not already been packed. Mommy was on the way home  from an all day trip to Asheville (2 hours away) for doctor appointments when the phone call came. Timing was perfect, and we left at 6:30 PM. Three of us took turns driving all night and we arrived safely in PA just after 6:00 AM. What an exciting introduction that was to our journey!

The past 20 days have been…well, interesting. There are a thousand words to describe everything that has happened these past few weeks. Blessings, challenges, joys, sorrows, good times, difficult circumstances, waiting, hoping, praying… God has been here with us every minute of every day. When I think of all that He has been to me, to us, to our family this week, I am overwhelmed by His love and faithfulness. He has been our Comforter, our Strength, our Shepherd, our Provider. He is the giver of joy and hope. He is our refuge and the truth that gives us freedom. He is behind every smile, every laugh, every song we sing. There are times when serving becomes so tiresome, and when thinking about home is just painful. It’s hard to sing in the rain. It has not always seemed like a wonderful adventure as you might imagine it to be. And yet, with each passing day it gets better and better. There is something about opening your eyes to a whole new perspective – God’s perspective – and seeing something beautiful that wasn’t there before. Or was it there all along? A wonderful lesson of character, of growing, of stretching. We’ve talked throughout the week. We’ve been encouraged by each other. God has been so gracious and merciful to pull us back into line again and again. He has patiently, gently, tenderly pursued us with His fatherly love and heart of understanding.

Looking back over the past 20 days, I have to say it’s been such a rewarding time of bonding with our grandfather. We have smiled, laughed, shed tears, held hands, prayed, and just sat around his room waiting, watching, being there. And it is by the grace of God that we have yet another day to share with him in this life! Yes, we have so much to be grateful for!