Fighting back tears


Grief. It’s a strange thing.

Grandpa died 7 years ago November, but his memory has been rushing at me lately in frequent, steady pulses. I am so, so aware of his absence.

I can feel tears smarting behind my eyes as I remember…

His smile. And his full head of chocolate hair (that didn’t salt and pepper until he was in his 70s). His stories. And his bad jokes. The frenetic and constant knee tapping. How he couldn’t sit still for long and was always on the go, moving like the energizer bunny. (I still brag that my gramps roofed houses until he was in his 70s. I was always so proud of him.)

Of his venison jerky. And his frugality. How he was a great lover of games and play and was such a kid at heart. How he’d toy around with his dentures making goofy faces at meals – much to our shock and awe and wonder as kids.

How he supported me as a dancer, even though I am pretty sure it went against everything he’d learned growing up in a conservative, Protestant, Prairie family.

How he gave me my first car the day I turned 16. (It was an Oldsmobile. And how I loved that hunk of metal.) And how he felt so guilty when the transmission blew, that he loaned me the money to buy my second car.

How he’d say “cotton pickin'” this and that and get impatient when things were going slowly. But how patient he was be with me. Repaying the car loan. Talking about bigger deeper things.

Like the Scriptures and why he thought some parts were obsolete and you didn’t need to read them anymore. How he’d gently remind me that verses like “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord” were written in a specific context – not necessarily about my current boy trouble in high school.

How he’d always let me go (and usually help me get there financially too), even though I know he always worried.

And how he welcomed Steve with a test – a complicated wooden puzzle that Steve knew he’d have to figure out. (And he did. 🙂

I miss him.

I was in Suriname when he died, and going to the funeral was not an option. Just one of those excruciating situations when you choose to live abroad. We’d said goodbye in a flood of tears before I got on the plane, knowing that he would lose the fight against the tumor in his brain while we were gone. But it didn’t make it any easier. When mom and dad called us in our tiny little room in Paramaribo, I collapsed and sobbed into the phone, and for a long time afterwards with Steve.

Tears, aching sobs. The only way to respond to such loss.

I’m not sure why all this is flooding back now.

Pregnancy hormones? Maybe. Meeting someone from Canada who knew him has jarred my senses and reinforced the sense of distance I feel from my Canadian home and heritage? Possibly. Could it be that as we walk through a multitude of milestones with Aya every day, that it reminds me that life is precious and short and Grandpa is missing them? Maybe.

I don’t know the reasons. But I miss him. I miss what he lived for and how he loved and served others. I miss his humanness and awareness of his own brokenness. And how out of that flowed a deep and gracious welcoming of others. How he was compassionate and abounding in love. How he drew people together and helped heal wounds. He was a pastor in the very truest sense.

And so my dearest Grandpa, may your legacy live on in my own life – in honesty and authenticity, in grace and compassion, and in a deep adventure and beautiful joy.

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