Monday, June 29, 2009

a letter to grandpa . . .

Dear Grandpa,

You went home to be with Jesus today and while I rejoice for the battle you've won, my heart already misses you.

As I think back on so many memories with you, I have so much to be thankful for. Your fingerprints can be seen in so much of my life and I thank you for how you loved us with arms so open wide.

Grandpa, you taught me more than anyone else I know of what it is to love with abandon.

You loved Grandma. Period.

You couldn't wait to tell the stranger on the street how long you'd been married, just how beautiful she was or that you loved her more than the day you married her. You modeled what expressing that love was . . .and I can think back to the countless times I watched you reach out for her hand as you walked along together or stooped to give her a kiss as you passed her by.

Thank you for teaching me what it is to model a Christian marriage.

Yet your love didn't end there.

You loved your family.

I can still hear the pride in your voice as you would introduce Dad, Phil or Marty to someone, or have one of us grandkids along in a trip up town. You were intentional in making time for family and our trips to Kansas to be with you and Grandma will remain some of my most fun memories.

Learning to drive stick shift with you sitting patiently in the passenger seat as I frantically fought off stalls at the 4 way stop. Game after game of skip-po followed by Grandma's rice krispie pie. Paying us 50 cents to comb your hair as you laid back in the recliner and relaxed. It never needed to be anything big . . .whatever it was, you were with us and let us know how much you loved that time together.

Countless times you'd walk up beside us, put your arm tightly around our shoulders as you leaned down to say, "Have I told you I loved you today?'

And still your love flowed.

You loved others.

It didn't matter who they were, how you knew them or if you had just met them in the line waiting at the resteraunt. You wanted to know them more. You'd tell them about your wife. Tell them about your family. You'd tell them how much your great God had blessed you . ..and to tell them how much He loved them.

We'd get from the back of the line to the front and you had somehow managed to get parts of their life they probably hadn't shared with many others.

Yet your love, God's love, flowed and they opened up and walked away with a smile.

You were available.

Not only to us but to others.

I know there was many, beyond your family, who sought out your time, your wisdom and your counsel. And time and time again you made yourself available intentionally. Your love flowed to them in the times you set aside and in the desire you communicated to help them see God's best for their lives and the situations they encountered.

But most importantly Grandpa?

You loved our Jesus.

Oh how you loved our Jesus.

As much as I never doubted your love for me, I never, ever, doubted your love for our Jesus.

You spoke it, you shared it and you lived it.

You weren't perfect, but you served a perfect God and you loved to tell others how much He loved them too.

You sought His wisdom, and I can think of so many mornings, as I would stretch awake on the pull out couch in the family room, I would roll over to see you and Grandma at the breakfast table as you quietly read from the Bible and prayed together.

Thank you for that picture.

You've been through so much Grandpa . . .especially these past 10 years as the body and mind God gave you, failed you more and more. Yet through it all, even in the ugliness of it, your love, God's love, shown through.

The glimmer of light in your eyes as you realized it was Grandma sitting besides you and holding your hands.

The peace etched in your forehead as Dad would read or pray with you.

The slow but steady voice telling us grandkids "I love you too" one more time as we'd stop by to see you.

Until it was just the determined pucker of your lips reaching out in a kiss.

You loved Grandpa, and I can't thank you enough for that.

Today I told Ava that Grandpa Willard had gone to be with Jesus. She looked at me and said, "Grandpa Willard, nap" as her childlike memory is of you resting in your bed.

And in her sweet childlike way, she spoke so much peace to my heart.

Because Grandpa, I love to think of the rest you now know. The peace that you now know. The freedom that you now know as your body has broken free of the boundage here on earth and your soul now flies free.

You are now napping with Jesus, Grandpa, and I can't think of a better place for you to be.

Sleep peacefully tonight Grandpa as the angels sing you home.

I love you,

Grandpa meeting Ava for the first time at 8 weeks old

Kisses to Grandpa - Ava 8 months old

Ava takes Kate and Olivia to meet Grandpa Willard.

Grandpa and his sweetheart, Christmas 2007


Brooke said...

Amber, that was so beautiful. Thanks for sharing all that. Sounds like such a special man you were blessed with. Love you!

Minders said...

So sorry to hear of your loss Amber. He sounds like an wonderful man! Your letter was so touching, thank you for sharing it.

M said...

That last picture of Grandpa and Grandma is precious. Love you!

Luke said...

Amber, thanks for posting that. I hadn't heard that Willard had passed away. I have many fond memories of him during my K-State days.

Kristy L said...

So sorry to hear Amber- thanks for sharing your thoughts! Safe travels.

Amy Cherise said...

What a priceless letter Amb - thank you.

I'm so thankful our girls will have a grandpa like we did...
and some sweet day know the grandpa we knew.

I love you and wish we could all be together on grandpa's farm today...(just think how 'rich' our girls would be... getting .50 each time they would comb his hair!!)

Anonymous said...

Amber-Thanks for sharing your story,it made me cry as he was such a dear man to myself and my family. My heart go out to your family and to grandma Eloise.I will miss him dearly as he and Eloise are like adoptive grandparents to Shana & I. Thinking of you in thoughts and prayers! Love you all!! Tasha K.

Q and H said...

How special your grandpa was. I told Quinton today that I always thought of him as my Kansas Grandpa. As I read with tears in my eyes, I could just hear him say..."I love you!" and feel his hug. He was a very special man and I will treasure his memory always.
Much love and prayers

Jen said...

We'll be praying for you and your family.

Busy Mom said...

Amber what a touching letter you've written. Thanks for sharing it with us all. It's touched my heart--what a special grandpa you had! You have our sympathy and love. Safe travels if you are traveling to Kansas.

Kirsten said...

Amber, I cried when I read this, I never knew your grandfather, but your portrayal of him was nothing short of beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us, and we praise Jesus that he has another soul who has been called home and now has a body and mind free from earthly restraint

Haley said...

Very sweet Amber! How thankful I am that we have had grandparents that have shown us Jesus and have made such an impact in our lives. Thinking of you and love you!

Anonymous said...

Priceless - you and your heart and your words. I love you, Dad

J Gutwein said...

That was amazing.. he looked like an great guy. Also your girls are so beautiful. Love, J

Anonymous said...

Amber, your note to your Grandpa was so amazing. As I read it, I could just picture him holding your grandma's hand, telling me how he loved me as he hugged me or just his adorable smile as his eyes sparkled. We are thankful he won't have to suffer any longer but will miss him deeply. Your grandparents both, have always been an extension of our family and our loved so much by all of us. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you - especially this weekend. Much love, Stacy, Aaron & Blair

Tami said...

I just read this post, and I loved it. I didn't know your grandpa died, and I will be praying for you and your family!!!
I have great memories of staying with your grandparents! Sleeping in the most amazing sheets ever! Talking to your grandpa after Sunday morning breakfast...he seemed so interested in my I'm sure he was with everyone. He was a special man. Thanks for sharing your heart in that letter, Amb. Love you.

Lori said...

Amber, what a beautiful tribute! So sorry for your loss.