Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grandpa.

Over Labor Day, I loaded the kids up in the suburban and headed due north to Nebraska to visit my grandparents.

I had spent every summer and holiday with them growing up but it had been way too long since we'd visited. The kids loved spending time with them - playing cards, eating ice cream, and comparing wrinkled, well-used hands to hands that have yet to see really hard work, or endure much suffering, or hold the newborn or the dying.

Last Tuesday night, just five short weeks from when we had seen them last, my dad called late to tell me my grandaddy had died. He was 91 and had lived more life that I even know about. He was a child of the Great Depression, a young man of World War II, a father to two, and a husband to one for 67 years.

For more time than a lot of people live, my grandparents walked through life together. He was a hand-holder and I remember him taking my grandmother's hand and sitting on the back porch while my brother and I played in their backyard on summer evenings.

A few months ago, some friends and I were talking about marriage and hard seasons. Not just difficult days, or annoyances, but stone cold months and years which threaten to crush a covenant that promises perseverance through the good, the bad, the sick, the healthy, the rich, and the poor. A wise older woman had shared that those seasons are, of course, inevitable. But, in light of sharing the good part of a century with someone, even a few bad years pale in comparison to all the true and the beautiful and the redemptive.

Those were the things my grandmother was holding onto as we buried my grandaddy on Monday in a cemetery in Hastings. They had grown up and grown old together. They had children together, celebrated grandchildren together, and kissed great-grand children together. They had run, and slowed, and eventually bent over walkers together. All bound by the vows symbolized in the rings that no longer fit their fingers.

The crisp flag that draped his casket was ceremonially folded and presented to his bride in thanks of his service to his country, 21 guns saluted him, and roses were laid one by one in the heart-heavy goodbye's of his family and friends. And one of the last to leave, his partner for life gently patted the casket, said her last 'I love you', and then whispered, "Goodbye, good buddy."

Because he had been.

14 comments:

Tricia said...

Oh wow, tears flowing. Mostly for the beauty and rarity of a love-filled marriage that spans so many years. Tears for your Grandmother as she says goodbye to the love of her life. Thank you for sharing this. Praying comfort for your family as you miss your Grandaddy.

Donnie Walker said...

Wow, Mel. Well written. Very touching. Your Grandparents sound like great folks. My best to you and your Grandma.

Donnie

Becca said...

What a beautiful post my friend . . .

Candy said...

Melissa,

A beautiful post and tribute to God's covenant of marriage over the long-haul. I am thankful to have met your grandparents. We'll be praying for your grandmother as she grieves the death of her "buddy".

I am so thankful that you made the sacrifice and drove the kids to Omaha to see them 5 weeks ago. Denying self blesses others beyond what we imagine.

Love you!

Candy
P.S. I speak for all your readers when I say that your posts are too rare these days.

pendy said...

What a marvelous legacy he's left. So sweet and yes, I'm doing the ugly cry.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Sobbing. So beautiful. May we all be so blessed.

Patricia said...

Melissa,
What a beautiful story about your grandparents. Our prayers and thoughts for all of the family.
Patricia (Beiriger) Carter

Henley on the Horn said...

I needed a good cry. What a precious post. What a blessing to see marriage lived out well. I hope and pray that my sweet and I will have 67 years together! Your grandparents are so precious. I will be praying for all of you as you miss your Granddaddy.

Kim said...

I clearly needed a good cry.
Thank you for sharing. And for the beautiful reminders. Praying for comfort for your grandmother!

The B4 said...

I could just bawl. So sweet, tender, and well written. I am sorry for your family's loss. I have a hand-holder. :)

Alison said...

We just attended a wedding this weekend, and this was such a beautiful picture of what God intended marriage to be.

Lots of prayers headed your family's way!

Sara said...

Simply beautiful. What a tribute. I'm right there with Pendy--doing the ugly cry.

Melissa said...

*hugs* So sorry for your loss. My grandfather died in August and this entry really hit home for me.

Lea said...

Precious. Tears streaming with similar memories to my grandparents' lives, marriage, and passings not so long ago. Much love.