This week’s post is not joyful. I lost my grandfather Sunday morning. He had been in the hospital for more than a week. I will miss him dearly, for he was a titan among men.
This post is personal. I am thankful for my grandfather’s life. Not many live to be ninety-one-years old. But I will miss him. I was not able to say goodbye. I have been beating myself up for living seven hundred miles away. Not only am I stayed by this pandemic, my wife is eight months pregnant. I simply cannot travel right now. Instead, I pass my days in three feet of snow, far away from my grieving family.
It is hard losing someone, especially my grandfather. My own dad died seven years ago. But I will miss my grandfather more than him. I grew up in a challenging home. And at school, I was often bullied. Visiting my grandparents house was a reprieve. They were godly and peaceful souls. Of course, they were not perfect, but they were bright fires in a world of darkness. Without them, I may have turned out for the worst.
Over the last couple days, I have replayed heartfelt memories like old records. My favorite one? I was eleven years old, and riding with him on his John Deere tractor. Grandpa had a massive farm. I use to love spending my summers helping him make hay. One summer, my grandpa tried to help me with math. I am a creative, and despite his countless efforts, I never picked up the skill. But this one sticks out. We spent hours turning the hay field into massive square root and geometric equations. The tractor’s motor hummed into white noise. The sun was a beating ninety-plus degrees. Lingering odors of diesel and sweat, hung in the air. My neck hot from hours in the sun. And on his knee, wielding a pencil normally kept in his ear, he gave me my lesson. Seems small? It is. But he was the only person to ever try and help me over the years. It was my grandpa and my grandmother who gave me the gift of reading. This later turned into my passion for writing. My grandparents rejected ultra capitalism, and performance identity. A few years ago I landed a high paying job in finance. I remember telling him, myself swelling with pride, I was making $20,000+ a month. His response woke me up: Nothing good comes selling mortgages. How can you sleep selling debt? I did not last long after that lol. He valued living small, being a good neighbor, and taking your rest. The mind was a thing to be cultivated and cherished. Farm life is hard work, but it might be the most honest work a person can ever do. I look back on their cracks of wisdom, like a priest meditates on the book of Proverbs. I was basically raised in the shire. I wish I had valued it more when I was young. I share a million sweet memories with my grandfather. Including his obsession and pride of our family’s role in the American civil war. Him and I were both members, for a short while, of a reenactment club. My grandfather is directly responsible for my love of history.
However, I am ashamed. I wish I had been a better grandson. I regret, a decade ago, moving far away, and returning home to visit only once a year. Occasionally, I made two visits. When I lived just down the road from them, after school, I would spend two or three evenings a week at their house. You could always count on being welcome. Perhaps, this is just my grief talking. But the truth is, I may never forgive myself for not forcing myself to come home more. I have always been an isolationist. Debilitating depression is an ongoing war. Home (visiting VA) often triggered painful memories of abuse. I stayed away. As a consequence, I missed out on the final decade of my grandpa’s life. This alone breaks my heart. If I could only hug him, and tell him I am sorry. Sorry, I had not the courage to overcome my demons. Because he had never hurt me. I should have braved my hometown to see him more. To spend time with the man who gave me my creativity. When he passed two days ago, the world forever became one degree colder.
I miss you grandpa. Goodbye.
Losing a love one is never easy. I have lost many throughout my young life. But I know God’s will is his design, not mine. I find peace in accepting his sovereignty. My grandpa is with God now. Perhaps, he is at this moment, converting all of heaven into becoming Democrats (he was passionate about his politics).
The purpose of life is not to arrive safely into old-age, but to live presently.
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Without Jesus, I would be gone from this world. In him and with him, I can run my race