My dear friend who is experiencing the most recent loss of her father gave me something to contemplate during one of our many conversations. She said that she can't help but feel how we are finally becoming the next generation. We are the adults now. We are now who we remember our parents to be when we had been children. I understood what she meant but I didn't actually feel the same until today.
I saw my grandfather this morning for what may possibly be the last time. Longevity is a gift in my family and at 87 years old he has lived a full and blessed life. He and my grandmother have been married 65 years with two daughters (my mom and my aunt), four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren as living proof of a lifetime of love and God's blessings.
There is so much I can say about my grandpa - my Papa - that it would take thousands upon thousands of pages to share what all he accomplished in his lifetime. He has always been one of the smartest men I've known and his faithfulness and diligence to his family and his walk with the Lord is one of the greatest examples I've had in my life. But after all the awards, accolades and accomplishments he will be known for in the world, the one thing that will always stand out to me is how much he loved his family.
Today, just before I planned to say my goodbyes, I watched as my grandmother was brought into the room where my grandfather lay. At 89, my grandmother has had her share of health problems to where it has been somewhat surprising that she will outlive her husband. She may have trouble remembering who her children and grandchildren are but I don't believe she could ever forget her Joe.
I watched as the at-home nurse brought her into to the room and placed her hand on his. Her sweetheart. The way she looked at him was with the innocence of a child; so much love transferring between them by just the touch of their hands and the way she gazed on him. I don't think I realized until then how much my grandfather treasured her. He cared for her until he couldn't physically do it himself and I imagine he held on as long as he did because he needed to know she would be looked after.
"I really love you," she said. There were other words overheard but to see what love looks like and sounds like after 65 years was sobering. Was she remembering back to when they were young and married? Back to when they welcomed their first daughter, my mom, or their second daughter, my aunt who was also present in the room? Back to when they saw their first grandbaby or celebrated the birth of their first great-grandchild? A lifetime of memories surrounding us...I can only hope to accomplish what they have. They made it look easy.
It was here that I realized what my best friend had been saying all along. Whereas many of my friends have already said goodbye to their grandparents, this season of my life is just now beginning. Suddenly my dad, my aunt and uncle, my in laws, etc. are the oldest generation and the time to keep and establish our family is now.
I will greatly miss my grandfather. We have so much to be thankful for because of him; a patriarch if there ever was one. His diligence to Christ has blessed our families for generations to come more than I can possibly say or imagine. Speaking as just one of his grandchildren, I know we all hope to continue to make him proud.