I wrote about a month ago about transitions, one of which was my last living grandparents moving into the nursing home. None of us knew then what Grandpa seemed to, that time was short and things needed to be put in order before his passing.
My gentle, patient Grandpa died yesterday morning.
I tried earlier to express some of my thoughts about his life and who he was, what he loved, but I kept feeling that though there were a lot of words I was still falling short.
Grandpa’s life was about one thing: he had experienced God’s love and grace, and dearly wished the same for others.
My grandpa was a farm boy. Maybe that is where he learned to love growing things. Grandpa had a garden. And house plants. And gourds growing on vines. If he could find a place for something else to grow, he would use every inch.
He planted seeds, watered them and was patient as they took root. He watched them grow and eagerly anticipated the fruit even while carefully clearing the weeds. He used the same methods as he nurtured life in those around him. His gentleness was evident to everyone.
My grandparents served as missionaries in Central Africa for nearly 30 years, alternating service there with teaching school here in the U.S. Countless people have and continue to express how much their interactions with my grandparents gave them hope and helped them grow.
I remember visits from them as a child when they would bring us African treasures and sleep in an A-frame house, where we sometimes joined them for snuggles before breakfast. Lying in between them and listening as Grandpa would tell stories about The 3 Cats Who Went to See the King, and The Boy Who Killed the Chicken. Grandpa taught me to count to 10 in French with a little story, and told funny jokes about preachers and missionaries that still make me smile.
As an adult, he affirmed my calling to ministry and advocated for me in the process of recording my ordination as a minister of the gospel. Grandpa always expressed his pride at having children and grandchildren who followed Jesus.
Grandpa loved Jesus and said, “I wish I had 100 loves to give to serving him.” (People say things like this, but Grandpa meant it.)
I can’t help but think that while he only had one life to give, the legacy he leaves behind is not a mere hundred lives but thousands of lives glorifying God and serving others.
I am blessed to count myself among them.
“Let your light so shine that men see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16