My grandfather went home to be with the Lord sometime in the night between Saturday and Sunday. He was a hundred years and ten days old and was, as you can imagine, ready to be out of here and on to the next thing. You can read about him here–a piece done up by his local paper.
As a child, of course, I didn’t know anything about that. We would always stop and see him and my grandmother in Brussels on our way back and forth between Mali and Oregon. One year they gave me a nightshirt with big red buttons printed onto the t-shirt fabric with instructions next to each–commands like Wake Up and Smile, things like that. I was notoriously not a morning person, back in the day…scratch that. I am not a morning person. This seemed to be a source of deep amusement to all my good family, who derived pleasure from trying to get me to be happy as soon as my eyes fluttered open. The only antidote to my morning misery, as far as I can remember, was to be driven around cobblestone streets listening to Swiss people yodling from the brilliant technological invention of a cassette tape. Gosh, that was great music.
It’s only when you grow up and start trying to assemble bits of information together about the people who have put you in the car, and taken you out again, and lifted you up onto a stack of books on a chair, and taken you round the garden that you begin to discover that they are people too, that they have a whole life of success and disappointment, of hope and despair, just as you yourself do. But then death comes along and you can only go sifting back through the few photos that don’t get lost in all the moving. Reconciling your own sense of who they are and their own vast histories I guess is how you are meant to spend the rest of your own life.
So anyway, I don’t want to write about this right now because I’m too grieved. Grateful for such a faithful and gritty witness to the good news of Jesus from two such remarkable people, grateful that they prayed for me and all their grandchildren and great-grandchildren day after day after day, grateful that they sacrificed so much for this country and for the church, but horribly sad for myself.