What I will remember most about my Grandfather was his care and concern for those less fortunate. I will remember the simplicity of chocolate ice cream in a cone and the tender way he prepared it. I will remember his ability to quote poems and scriptures. I will remember his laugh. I will remember his bold fashion choices--- plaid pants and bright colors suited him.
Two weeks ago, after suffering mini-strokes and dementia, he left this place and went on to the next. The "Lasts" blog I recently posted, I read again with him in mind.
Toward the end as his body and mind failed him, he couldn't remember that he and my Grandmother were married. It became a great concern to him! She recounted this story with a teary-eyed laugh. He wanted her to pick him up at 7 a.m. and take him to the church. Her concern was who would come to a wedding that early in the morning!
Even his generous spirit was quieted by his conflicted brain activity. It became important to remember that dementia was a part of him, but not all of him. At the end of his life here, he wasn't himself.
Sometimes, a persons overt and apparent neediness reminds me of this truth in a way that causes me to hope.
Isn't that what we all need? What we all hope for? That as our flesh and hearts fail, something else is true of us? There is another reality--- not just the one we see with limited vision. While it is a different context, I find the epilogue of Psalm 73 fitting. In all times, the nearness of God is my good. The older I get and the more I see my frailty of life, it makes sense. In some way, perhaps truth is easier to believe in closer proximity to the one who is making all things new. The further I am away, the more difficult it is to believe, yet is no less true.
If life is a continuum, birth to death, always moving closer to eternity where death is no longer the end, the ultimate gift for those in Christ is God. It is His nearness wholly realized. The promise that I am being made like Him in the process--- even as my body is wasting away --- is a comfort to my soul. He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Not me and my grasp of truth (especially when my mind may fail) but Him. Surely strength doesn't originate in me. Lasting endurance in the face of all that is this life is found outside of me.
Sometimes I wonder, am I moving closer to God? Then I remember the words of Jesus, "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." In the story of redemption, God draws souls to himself.
My grandfather knows what it means to be bodily near God. His flesh and heart are whole and new.
I am but a whisper of the girl I really am. Simultaneously saint and sinner. In the in-between space. I am not myself. Praise God.
Donald Leroy Abernethy