But Not As Those Who Have No Hope
My grandpa died this weekend. He went to sleep Friday night and never woke up.
This has been coming for a while. He was, after all, 93 and in poor health. In fact, he had a heart attack in August and we weren’t sure he was going to leave the hospital then. Still, my grandpa is gone and I am sad. I’m a lot of things, actually. I’m glad that he’s not stuck in a body that doesn’t work right anymore. I’m heartbroken because I desperately wished that he would have lived long enough to hold some great-grandbabies in his arms. I’m relieved because I know the stress that his convalescence put on my grandma and mom and aunt. I’m guilty because I’m relieved. But mostly, I’m just sad.
Grandpa was many things. He was a WWII vet who took part in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. He was an engineer. He was brilliant at math and could do trigonometry in his head. He could build or fix anything. He was a terribly smart man who could do anything he set his mind to. He was a restaurant owner, a savvy real estate investor, a mechanical engineer, and a good driver. He had his faults, sure. He could be mean and incredibly hurtful, and was often angry. He had seen too much devastation in his life that he couldn’t get past. His first wife ran out on him while he was serving his country in WWII. He watched friends and enemies alike suffer and die in truly horrific ways on the battlefield. He himself was wounded during the war, and carried the physical reminder of time spent in freezing conditions with him the rest of his life. As long as I can remember, the man’s feet and hands were constantly cold, remnants of frostbite from the war.But grandpa could be incredibly charming and loving, too.
Grandpa adored all of his grandchildren, but by virtue of living only a mile away from him, I was closest to him. I spent most of my summers with him and grandma while I was growing up. It was at their house that I learned to ride a bike, play pinball in the bonus room, and practiced hours of piano. Grandpa and I would sing together; he had a wonderful voice and could have been a professional, except that no one could tell him how to do anything. He always knew best, even when he didn’t. During those summers, Grandma and Grandpa and I would often drive up in their motor home to Mountain Lakes, a campground in Lytle Creek, CA. We’d play in the playground, swim in the pool, get ice cream at the general store, and play Monopoly for hours (I always had to be the banker. Grandpa wanted me to be good at math.). He even tried to teach me to fish once. I really didn’t have the patience for that.
I think what has been the hardest is knowing the man that he was when I was small and seeing the man he was towards the end. The mind that was only just beginning to lose its edge was hampered by a body that was weak and frail. He was only a shadow of the man that we loved and that was hard for him, because once upon a time, he could do anything.
So it’s been a rough weekend, to say the least. Yesterday was particularly hard for my mom. It was my birthday and so we went ahead with our plans to go to Disneyland, but always in the back of our minds was the fact that grandpa wasn’t here. See, Christmastime always means that our birthdays are here. Grandpa would have been 94 on December 17. We appreciate your prayers. Like the apostle Paul said, “We grieve, but not as those who have no hope.” We understand that Grandpa is at rest, secure in the arms of the One who saves. We are sad for what we have lost, but we take comfort in the fact that one day we will be united with those we have loved and lost when we stand together in glory.
Rest well, Grandpa. I am the woman I am today because of your influence. Thank you for everything.
All my love, Jessi