There are few things in life that you can truly count on being there. One of those, for me, has been my Grandad. He is a part of my earliest childhood memories. I spent 6 of my formative years living literally on his property.
Before my grandmother died when I was 6, Grandad’s primary job was taking care of her. He would babysit me while my parents were working, I don’t know how often. We would bring Grandma her coffee every morning. Then we would have a snack. It was always a slice of processed cheese, you know, the kind that came in a plastic wrapper. Grandad would cut it up for me on a saucer.
I have memories of a peanut harvest. We had the peanuts in a garage. I would step on them on purpose so I could eat them. Grandad would scold me. But not a lot.
Oh, and back then, I called him Grandaddy. I’m not sure why I ever abbreviated it.
When I was 8, Grandad married an amazing lady named Durscherl. She’s always claimed that she married him because she saw his pictures of me. I don’t know about that, but I’m sure glad if it helped!
After they got married, they also got a few horses. Some people might have thought they were crazy, getting horses in their “old age.” I think they knew how to truly live. So Grandad built a barn. I “helped.” And there were two horses. And the mare was bred, and then there were 3 horses.
And Grandad and Durscherl loved on me, even when I was saucy and told Durscherl she wasn’t making her biscuits “from scratch” because she was using Bisquick.
And when they caught a mouse in a trap, and I realized what they planned to do with it, Grandad took it outside and let it go.
Eventually, the decision was made for Grandad and Durscherl to move back “home” to Mississippi. Of course, I didn’t get to spend as much time with them, then. But there were annual, and sometimes bi-annual visits. A lot of times, I would bring a friend. Sometimes, we would even have a hymn sing with my relatives. Now, I’m generally a contemporary music kind of girl…but oh, I do miss a good hymn sing.
When Josh graduated from college (we had been dating about a year,) he and his friend took a road trip to New Orleans. I suggested that he stop by and meet my grandparents on the way there. I know he was quite smitten with me, because he actually did it. He and Jay showed up on my grandparents porch and completely surprised them…they had no idea who he was! But once they recovered from the confusion, they started loving on him just like they loved on me.
When I was a senior in high school, my show choir performed at a competition in New Orleans. My grandparents found someone to drive them, and they came.
They were at my wedding.
Even though they were officially done with travelling, they were at my college graduation.
We have tried to visit them about every year and a half.
When I walked into that hospital room in Mississippi last week, I knew he was very sick. I knew he was very weak. What I didn’t know was he was having trouble speaking. My Grandad has always been a story teller. He was a talker. And I guess I thought that that part of him would be untouched. But he could barely enunciate his words. And I think that’s what broke my heart.
I held his hand for a few hours while Josh and the kids went to get dinner. And the only thing I could understand him saying was “Help me get up.” But every once in a while, his eyes would meet mine. And his eyes would light up, and he would smile, and, for just a moment, he was the man that I remember.
And when I left him, I said, “I love you.” And it wasn’t perfectly clearly said, but he definitely said “I love you” back.
My Grandad went home to be with Jesus this afternoon.
I don’t say that to be cliche. You see, my grandfather was 96 years old. And what I haven’t mentioned yet was, he was a man of amazing faith.
Durscherl shared with me a few years ago, that when Grandad was 17, he made a commitment to God that he would always carry a Bible in his pocket, that he would read it every day, and that he would always tithe.
He always kept his promise.
I think she thought that I had heard that story before.
I had not.
Grandad’s life has been such an amazing journey. He lived through world wars. He moved “every 11 years,” as he put it. He was proud that he had been a “hobo,” (I guess, at some point, he hopped a train!) and he was upset when he saw on the news a referral to the “last living hobo,” because they weren’t talking about him!
He was married to my grandmother for over 50 years, and he was about to celebrate his 18th anniversary with Durscherl. That’s over 70 collective years of marriage!
He had 5 sons, I don’t know how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and somehow he managed the ability to love and be proud of each and every one of us.
And I could go on and on. And I’m already saddened that I’ve already forgotten so many of his stories. And I will miss him terribly.
But it’s time like this that I am so thankful for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Because Grandad came face-to-face with his Savior today.
And 96 years, as impressive as that sounds, is nothing, compared to what is ahead of him!
These pictures were taken at our last visit to Mississippi – the weekend before Thanksgiving, 2011. I am so, so thankful that my children got to meet their Great-Grandad, and these pictures will always be treasured!