In Honor of a Man I Call Grandpa

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At 5:13 a.m. on Friday morning, I received a text from my mom.

The text said: “When you’re awake give me a call.”

I called mom …

“I’ve got good news and bad news, and it’s the same piece of news.  Grandpa died last night.”

What a blessing to come from a strong heritage of faith!  The faith of a mother who sees her own dad’s death as both good and bad news.  And the blessing of a grandfather who exemplified a Christ-like life.

I’m humbled by the strong spiritual legacy with which God blessed me.

Grandpa has won the victory.  Yes, it is hard to say goodbye to such a faithful man of God.  There is both joy and sadness.

Mervyn Whitfield, 95, died in St. Saint Marie, Ontario.

By the time you read this post, my wife and I will be in Thessalon, Ontario, Canada for the Monday morning funeral.

***

The most memorable analogy of death I’ve heard was something that Andy Scott (a former missionary to Papua New Guinea) said.

Death is like a small boat floating further and further away on the horizon of the ocean.  The boat we see gets smaller and smaller until it finally drifts out of sight.

Still, on the other side of the ocean there is another shore.

The moment that boat drifts out of sight, it is now seen by a new group of people.  People who have gone before us welcome the one who has passed.  The person fades out of our sight, but is welcome to a new place.  A heavenly one.

Death is not a period, but a comma.

***

The last time I saw grandpa was a year ago when I flew up to attend the funeral of an uncle.

It was a hard visit for me.

Over the last few years, Grandpa’s health and memory have been going downhill.

It was hard when I heard him ask if he had been a good husband – he couldn’t remember.  It was hard when I heard him ask if he had been a good father – he couldn’t remember.  We sang together since singing seemed to put him as ease.  Through song, he was able to retreat to a safe place in his troubled mind.

And when it was time to go, I hugged him.

Standing in the elevator, I had all sorts of emotions.  I told my parents I felt like it was the last time I would see him alive.

And it was.

While Grandpa couldn’t remember much of his life, the rest of us did.  The rest of us do.

Two years ago when I visited grandpa, it inspired me to write a post called how to be a superhero without supernatural abilities.

I think the world is confused about the types of people who ought to be honored.  It’s the dad who wakes up early in the morning to feed breakfast to his kids.  It’s the grandpa who golfs with his grandkids.  It’s the mom who cares for a sick child.  It’s normal people who consistently act with grace, kindness, and humility in light of the Gospel.

I’d be proud to grow up to be a man like Grandpa – a superhero in his own way.

***

Funerals are never “fun”, but thank God for funerals.

It’s a time to think.  A time to remember.  A time to reflect.

Life is full of distractions and full of detours.

But funerals help me ask – am I living for the glory of God?  If I were to die today, would I be pleased with the contribution I made to the Kingdom?  Would my wife and kids know how much their husband/daddy loved them?

***

Grandpa, I remember drinking Canada Dry at your house, I remember arriving late at night and you and grandma coming out of the room to welcome us, I remember the stone fence you built, and I remember preparing wood for the fireplace.  Of course, there are a lot more memories.

Every one of them are positive memories.

Grandpa, I loved (and hope I’ve inherited) your sense of humor.  You always had such an amazing smile.

Grandpa, I remember playing Cribbage with you.  When I was younger, I thought you were unbeatable, but as I grew up I realized even a teenager could beat his Grandpa at Cribbage.

Grandpa, I’ve always been encouraged and motivated by your unending energy.  I pray that God will give me your endurance when I get older.

Grandpa, I remember golfing with you.  That says a lot because I don’t think I really like golfing.

I’m thankful for my Grandpa.  When he arrives in heaven, may God bless him with a happy reunion with his wife, Jean, and son, Rob.

***

Life is like a book, and every day we turn a page.  Interestingly, this book of life is more like an electronic copy where it’s harder for you to sense how close you really are to the end.

As you turn the pages, you know only one thing.

That you’ve just finished another page.  That you’re one day closer to finishing.

But, what none of us knows is when we will turn the last page and find that the story is over.

Grandpa’s story has been written.

What story are you writing?

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks, Craig, for sharing this about your grandpa. My dad died at age 81 in May of last year, so the memories of it all are still fresh. He, too, had a strong faith in God through Jesus Christ and, obviously, greatly impacted my life. May our Lord be your family’s consolation during this time.

  2. JD says

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories of a life well lived. Indeed, it is a humbling honor to have blessed with Godly grandparents and I still miss them and it has been over 40 years.

  3. Cecilia says

    Thanks for sharing. What a legacy. My Grandfather was an old fashioned man not able to express love easily. However, there are memories I cherish just because he was my Grandpa.
    Your words have encouraged me to be more to my Grandchildren.
    Ill be praying for you and your family. No doubt you will be remembering more stories, God bless.

  4. Praveen Aaron says

    Dear Craig, Thanks for sharing about your grandpa’s departure. He is promoted to see the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord gave him 95 years to live which is a great blessing not only to him but to you and the rest of your family. He came as a baby and went as a baby. Those who loved him well took care of him I suppose. Please collect information, what the Lord did with him in his last fifteen years (from 81st to 95th year)

  5. Scott F says

    Craig,

    So sorry about the loss of your grandfather yet so thankful for the rich legacy he created with his life. We can all be inspired to live a life with that kind of impact.

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