June 19, 2011

Grandpa

I barely remember my Grandpa Hart.
There are a few dim fuzzy memories like riding snuggled between him and my mom in the middle seat of his old, blue pickup truck  along the dusty, piney gravel back roads of Northern Idaho, or eating sweet, juicy huckleberries that he picked for me on hikes.

I’ve been told stories. I’ve heard that he would take me on his lap and read to me every time they visited our home. They tell me that he was ridiculously pleased when I, at age four, proudly brought him my Dick and Jane book and insisted on reading it to HIM this time…
They tell me he was gentle and soft-spoken, yet with a dry humor that would surface at just the right, unexpected moment to put everybody into stitches.
I’ve heard about his character– how my mom and her siblings can’t remember one single time when they heard a disagreement or harsh word between their parents. How his family was so important to him that no matter how much work there was to accomplish, there was never a day when he didn’t lay it all aside and go home for dinner.

But mostly what I remember about him is the glimpses that I got through the swiftly closing door of an ICU unit that didn’t allow 7-year-olds to enter. I remember his pale face, drawn with pain. I saw my mom combing his messy hair for him…
I was too young to understand what it meant to have Lymphoma. I didn’t know why my Grandma broke into tears when they took him to the Oncology unit. I just knew that the waiting room had cooler puzzles up there. I was sad when we had to leave the coolest of the puzzles half finished when he was moved back to ICU for the last two days of his life…

As I got older, I found myself missing him– wishing that I could have gotten to know him. I wondered what it would have been like to have a Grandpa…

Maybe that was why I could never accept John.
John didn’t fit my preconceived opinion of what a Grandpa was supposed to be. I hated to see him raise his gun and shoot the beautiful birds Grandpa Hart would have loved. I cringed to hear harsh denunciations of Godly ministers I admire. I was frustrated by his refusal to consider any opinion but his own. And I was very unnerved to look up one day and see him calmly walking through the kitchen in broad daylight wearing nothing but his skivvies and a towel. Uhm… we don’t do that at my house!

Welcoming John into the family required me to change and adapt, and sadly, in my human weakness, I didn’t care to change.

But my God loves me too much to leave me in the hard, coldness of my human nature. He kept His promises to “take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” He “shed abroad” His selfless love in my heart (Ezekiel 36:26, Romans 5:5) and then gave me an opportunity to put that love into practice– on the very person who I found most difficult to love.

The past few weeks, as Mom and I have lived in his home, I’ve discovered in John a man I never knew. I was deeply touched when he, despite the coldness I have shown towards him over the years, bent himself over backwards to help me fix my car. I’ve enjoyed working alongside him in his outstanding 1-full-acre garden. I saw out there the damage that the birds do and finally understood why he fires a few rounds once in a while to scare them away. I’ve enjoyed the car rides we’ve taken together, just he and I, where he has taken little detours out of his way just to show me something he thought I’d like. He teases me and I give it right back to him.
I’ve found out that his opinions aren’t always so bad either. The other morning as I was texting a friend at the breakfast table, he hollered, “Beth, how come you don’t ever eat with us?”
Point well taken. :-)

He called my cell phone the other day while I was in town.
"Beth? This is John–" he paused awkwardly, then plunged on, "–your grandpa."

And I smiled.

Happy Father’s Day, Grandpa Weir. I’m so glad you’re in our family now.

6 comments:

  1. Beth, as emotional a person as I am, I haven't cried over very many blogs. But this one has me moist. Truly beautiful! I think your _grandpa_ is very proud of you. And it is a beautiful memorial to your Grandpa Hart as well. Thanks for letting us peak into your heart. :) love you, girl!

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  2. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing and being honest, Beth. Touching.

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  3. So well written, and admirably transparent...Thanks for a post that made me want to print it off and keep for rereading later on.

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  4. I agree, very beautiful. And a blessing to me... I felt God reminding me to take the time to really enjoy my grandpa. (You know, I have the best opportunity to do so right now!)

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  5. Thanks friends. :-) I cried writing it too..

    @Araya, you have one amazing grandpa too! You don't know how lucky you are to have him in your life the way you do. :-)

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