Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage . . . They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
~Psalm 84:5

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's been a year

And it didn't hit me until I hugged my friend Elaine's grandpa tonight.

We had taken a group picture just moments before and I heard him telling David, Elaine's army boyfriend, that the two service men needed to stand together. I was immediately reminded of my grandpa. So, when I hugged him I couldn't help but think, I can't remember the last time I hugged my grandpa. It's been exactly one year since his burial.

And just a few weeks later, my other grandpa died.

I barely held the tears in while saying goodbye to Elaine's grandmother. I'm sure she noticed. But when I sat back down on the couch Elaine immediately noticed something was wrong. All I could manage to say was hugging her grandpa made me very emotional, and she immediately knew why. What a dear friend.

Even though he wasn't very vocal the last few years, it was still a comfort to know he was there; that he had always been there. As a young adult I remember imagining that I could take my future husband to meet him; he would share his war stories, perhaps we'd even drive him to Snider for the WWII 36th Infantry reunion. Those reunions don't happen anymore. We have only our memories of his memories to help us remember.

And may we never stop remembering . . .

Below is what I read beside his casket a year ago tonight. It was the hardest thing I had to do in my life. I haven't looked at it since.

Growing up, if my brothers and I weren't with my parents, we were with our grandparents; their home has always been our home. Memories of those times flash through my head: cold, sweet watermelon on a hot summer day; lazy Sunday afternoon naps on that fuzzy brown couch; grandpa fixing my covers after I kicked them off in my sleep; bologna sandwiches with fritos after school; Little Debbie snacks and Wrigley's Chewing Gum always in abundance; listening to him whisper the names of his children and grandchildren as he laid in bed praying for them at night.

Throughout his whole life my grandpa loved and served God, his family, his friends, his neighbor, and his country. He was a humble man who loved wholeheartedly. He may not have always expressed his love with eloquent words, but he displayed his love through the work of his hands. And he allowed God to use him to touch people's lives. He carried out the commandment that Jesus gave Simon Peter in John 21:15-17:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

My grandpa fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, clothed the unclothed; he took people groceries, gave children candy, mowed neighbors' lawns. He constantly gave out of his own need. He lived with a purpose, fulfilling his calling. He spent his life “storing up treasures in heaven” because his life was not his own; his life was hidden in Christ.

There is a poem by George Herbert, a 17th century poet and parson, that reminds me of my grandpa. It's entitled Colossians 3:3, a verse which states Our life is hid with Christ in God.

My words and thoughts do both express this notion,
That Life hath with the sun a double motion.
The first Is straight, and our [daily] friend,
The other Hid, and doth obliquely bend.
One life is wrapt In flesh, and tends to earth.
The other winds towards Him, whose happy birth
Taught me to live here so, That still one eye
Should aim and shoot at that which Is on high:
Quitting with daily labor all My pleasure,
To gain at harvest an eternal Treasure.
[My Life Is Hid In Him, That Is My Treasure]

As Herbert describes in this poem, my grandpa had two lives: a physical one here on earth that we all experienced and enjoyed; and a spiritual one, that was cultivated as he loved and served others.

So as we grieve and bid farewell, let us also rejoice and take comfort, because at this very moment Mariano Miranda is experiencing that which he never fully experienced here in this world: He is basking in the glory of God. He is savoring his Father's delight. He is overwhelmed, and probably a bit embarrassed, with the abundance of his treasures. And we, as part of his living inheritance, must carry on his legacy. We must love our neighbors as ourselves and give them that which they lack, knowing that when we meet Grandpa in heaven again he will be bursting with pride on our behalves.


Tirzah said...

Bummer that you miss your grandpa so much.

If you don't mind some comic relief (I had a very heavy week, but now I'm kinda lighthearted), at least it sounds like you and your grandpa were pretty close. :) My grandfather is suffering from dementia and can't really remember who I am anymore. But I think what's sad is that I like him better this way -- at least he doesn't remember that he always liked my sister better! :D (Heh heh heh.) It's like, "No, I'm not your sobrina, I'm your nieta. My mother's name is so-and-so, and she's your daughter. And here, let me take your arm while you're randomly walking out the front door there."

Debs said...

Sending you big hugs Boo.
love ya!

Bird said...

Nice reflections, Boo. Nice crop on that shot, too.

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