There has been a lot of excitement and joy in our lives lately with Clementines arrival and the wonderful blessing to watch her develop and grow! Having the privilege to introduce her to this vast world and being able to experience everything through her eyes and alongside her is really cool. Even as I write this she’s laying beside me, cooing, smiling at me, wriggling around and almost turning from her back to her front (seriously kid, s l o w d o w n).
But with all of this joy and happiness we are fortunate to enjoy, there has also been grief and heartache. On August 30th at 5:32 a.m., my Grandpa Ginter went to be with Jesus after living with Alzheimers for over three years. Even though we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to “prepare” and say our goodbyes, knowing the inevitable outcome of this horrible disease, there really is no way you can actually prepare yourself for a loved ones passing. It was hard to get the words “Bye Grandpa, I love you” out of my lungs before leaving his room because I knew once I said those last words and drove home, that would be the last I’d see of him on this earth. How do you make that decision to get up and leave when you know you will never see this person who means so much to you ever again? How do you pull yourself away from them, and not just sit, holding their hand for a couple more hours? Although it was hard to say goodbye, I am so grateful I was able to have the opportunity to do so.
My Grandpa was a special man. He was kind, compassionate, loving, caring, sweet, hilarious, humble, giving, God-fearing and honouring. There is really no way for me to get across how special he was. It seems as though I’m exaggerating, over compensating because he is gone. But I’m not. He was truly that wonderful.
I am grateful for all of the memories I have of him, the christmas mornings we were able to spend with my Grandma and Grandpa Ginter, the day trips we would make to see them, the many card games we learnt from them. I feel so lucky to have the honour and privilege to be able to call him my Grandpa and to be able to mourn so much because there is truly a void without him. But I miss him. For selfish reasons of course, his kisses he’d give you smack on your lips, his hugs that made known how much he missed seeing you, the way he would make you feel like the most important person in the room, how excited he would be for you when you told him good news about your own life. I wish our Clementine would have had the opportunity to get to know this man because I know he would have had a huge impact on her life just like he had on mine. And even though I want him back, I am so happy that he is with his Father, that he gets to live everyday free from pain, that he has his memory back, and that he can hear again. He gets to rejoice in heaven! How cool!
But nonetheless, the pain is still real. I think one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves and each other when someone near and dear passes away is “time heals all wounds”. We’re rarely honest with ourselves and one another. We try to sugar coat it, to make it better. The fact is that the pain never goes away. Maybe you don’t cry as much as the days pass, maybe you find you think about them a little bit less as time goes on allowing periods of rest from the hurt and pain you feel deep in your heart. But it never just “goes away”. I think it’s hard to be honest with people how much you’re hurting. How many times have you replied that you’re fine, you’re good, or you’re okay when someone asked how you are? I’ve done it countless times. Admitting grief and pain is hard, it opens up the wound all over again and makes you vulnerable. But I think being vulnerable, allowing others to share in your grief with you, is what helps you to heal.
When my Grandpa Klassen died from cancer almost four and a half years ago, I felt broken and confused. Why would God take away this man that I loved so much? Why wasn’t he given more time? I was shown his incredible faith though when my Grandma told me his last words were that he was going home. He was never bitter. He knew that he was going to a better place, one that held so much more than this world could ever offer. I realized then how small my faith was, how shallow and frail it had become. My Grandpa showed me what real faith was yet again, and I became ashamed of how little mine had become. I was baptized a little while afterwards and I have my Grandpa to thank for that.
My Grandpa Ginter was also never bitter about his diagnosis. His fear was that he would hurt and embarrass his family and his Father because of it. He of course never did. Even in his final days when his mind was pretty much completely gone, when he wasn’t communicating but was living his days with his eyes closed and was lost in the past, evident through his hand gestures and actions, he still praised his Lord. He acted out his days of when he was a pastor, preaching, taking communion, giving whatever he had in his pocket to others, reading his bible. He was still faithful even when his mind had left him. This reality smacked me right in the face yet again. How strong was my faith? Would I praise God through any diagnosis I was given? And again I realized how small my faith still was, although deeper than a few years ago, I realized that we never stop learning about our Father. That I should be putting much more effort into my relationship with him. I guess you could call is the silver lining of it all. I wish I could thank my Grandpa, that I could wrap my arms around him and tell him what an amazing Grandpa he was, and how thankful I am for his legacy. I wish I could sit down with him and hear more about what he learned about Jesus in his own life, that I could see the joy in his eyes again when he talked about Him. I can see the smile across is face right now.
I hope when my day comes that I will have had an impact on half the people my Grandpa’s did, and that I will be as humble as them too, giving all the praise and glory to the One who made it all possible. I hope I can make my Father proud, just like I am sure with ever fibre of my being they did.