Sunday, September 11, 2016

Celebrating Grandparents' Day with No Grandparents

Since today is grandparents' day and i just lost my grandmother, I wanted to take a minute and post about her.  This will probably be long, I am sorry, so you can scroll on if you like.  

It seems like the more funerals I go to, the harder they become.  Is it because the older I get, the closer I am to the people I lose?  Is it because I have less people that I love left?  My uncle might say that it's because it reminds me of my own mortality.  I think it's because as the scales are tipped, as more people I love wait for me in heaven than are left here on earth, I get homesick.  It's because it's harder to brave this wretched world without those people in your corner.  My grandmother's preacher talked about my grandma being a prayer warrior and it struck me that I lost one more person that advocated for me in prayer.  

My grandparents were my ideals.  My grandpa was the greatest man I ever knew and I want my son to grow up to be like him.  My grandma was the greatest woman I ever knew and I want to be like her when I grow up.  I am not saying they were perfect--I know better.  My grandpa was strong, but funny and ornery.  He had huge hands that built houses, but could cradle my babies with pride and softness.  My grandma was really the only babysitter I ever knew as a kid.  We played dress up and she gave us big spoons to dig in the yard and she sang songs to us, putting our names into them.  She was funny and strong and ornery too.  Once when my brother was little and throwing a fit, she threw herself down on the couch and had herself a fit.  My brother stopped and stared, probably wondering what in the world happened when adults lost it because he'd never seen such a thing before.  Grandma said later that she had to pick herself up before she lost control.  She added that she knew why kids threw fits--it felt good!  Five years ago, when she had breast cancer, she opted for a mastectomy because she didn't have time for chemo or radiation because she was taking care of my papa, who was in the late stages of Parkinson's.  She came home from surgery and got busy doing laundry, kicking it down the hall, and swearing when the kids protested, that she wasn't lifting anything.  She broke her wrist about two years ago, falling in the parking lot of the store.  She did her shopping, including lifting a heavy bag of cat litter or cat food, and drove to my mom's house.  She saw mom was busy doing laundry and said they could just go to the doctor "next week."  She ended up needing a steel plate and screws to put her wrist back together.  And even with a diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, she still had her sense of humor.  A nurse was asking her routine questions before a surgical procedure and asked my 88-year-old grandma if she could possibly be pregnant.  Grandma had several liters of fluid built up in her abdominal cavity and she certainly looked very pregnant.  Grandma rubbed her belly and said, "Oh yes, I am due with twins any moment now!  I'm going to get my name in the papers!"  Everyone in the room burst out laughing.  

She rapidly declined and rather than the guess of 3 months the doctor tentatively gave her, it took only 3 weeks and her pain was over and ours began.  Four years and 22 days after we lost Pops, grandma joined him.  I've tried to quantify why I have taken this so hard.  The only thing I can coherently bring together is that I feel lost.  My mom is the only parentage I have left.  No grandparents, no great-grandparents, not even my dad.  We have a 5 generation picture up on the wall in our living room, taken 15 years ago when Arrena was a baby.  In 15 years, we are down to 3 generations.  If I feel that way, I have no doubt that my mom feels even more lost than I do, since she is now the matriarch of our little family.  Have you ever seen the Facebook meme about looking around for an adult and realizing you're it, so you start looking around for someone adult-ier?  My mom no longer has anyone "adult-ier."  She moved a block away from my grandma when Pops died so they could take care of each other (because grandma was a natural caregiver and needed to do that) and much of her life revolved around her mom.  And yet, she seems to be holding up better now than she did before grandma died.  It was the anticipation, she said.  However, I was stoic before and now I am grieving.  

But, we don't grieve as those who have no hope.  When I say I have hope, it's not in the "wish" sense of the word, it is in the assurance as strong as I know that I am breathing and my fingers are typing this.  My grandmother and my grandfather and my dad and others are this minute in heaven with Jesus.  Not because they "believed" there is a God.  Not because they attended church.  Not because they were good people.  Not because they followed some list of rules.  Not because they prayed some "magic prayer" that gave them hell insurance.  Not because they were baptized in a river or a chlorine-cleaned baptismal tank and came back up a wet sinner.  They are in heaven today because they had a relationship with Jesus Christ.  They accepted his forgiveness for their sins when he died on the cross in their place and they followed him until he took them home.  They left behind an example and a legacy of what following Jesus looks like.  They loved Jesus and it showed.  They were kind and loving and forgiving and gentle and selfless and humble and joyful.  I love Jesus and I strive to be like him, but I fail sometimes.  My grandparents are an example of a lifetime of learning and becoming more and more like Jesus.  

I will see them again.  No maybes or wishful thinking or delusions or mindlessly following the masses or positive thinking or "if I'm good enough" or fairy tales or whatever people like to say to excuse our Christian beliefs.  I KNOW.  I am SURE.  I am GUARANTEED.  I stake my life and the lives of my family and my children on this.  THAT is how serious and sure I really am.  My grieving for my grandmother is temporary and selfish because I miss her NOW.  Because I want to be where she is.  I am world weary.  The problems of life physically cause me pain.  And one less person to help me walk through this life breaks my heart.  

I was reading a Max Lucado book and he was writing about Lazarus.  Many people have speculated as to WHY Jesus wept when Lazarus died.  The passage in the book talked about people being in a cage of fear of death.  They had seen Jesus heal people and raise others from the dead, but apparently it wasn't enough for them to believe fully yet.  He related a story of a missionary who went to a remote tribe that was suffering from disease.  All they had to do was cross a river to get to a place that had medicine to heal them.  But, they believed there were evil spirits in the river and they would rather die of the disease than to go near the water.  The missionary told them he had crossed the river to get to them.  They wouldn't get in.  He got in and splashed around and they still wouldn't get in.  Finally, he dove into the river and swam across to the other side and stood on the bank, waving to the tribe, who cheered and then followed him across.  We have a savior who dove into the river of death and swam to the other side and came out alive to show us that we didn't have to be afraid of death--he has conquered death.  Therefore, I don't fear death for me or my loved ones who follow Jesus.  

I asked grandma to give Pops and my dad a hug for me when she got there and I told her I'd meet her there.  I will see them again.  I hope you all, as my friends, will be there too because I have some amazing grandparents that I'd like to introduce you to!  But, first, I want to see my Jesus.

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