Sunday Snapshot {a life remembered with love}

Saturday, March 19, 2011.  A day of great sorrow, a day of everlasting hope.

The day the entire S family gathered to celebrate the life of a man we knew as "Daddy/Grandpa/Great-grandpa/Great-great-grandpa."
There are volumes to say.  So many stories that could be written.  (And yes, I am jotting snapshot thoughts in a journal lest I forget any of them).  Yet right now when I stop to really concentrate on each individual memory, my throat constricts, the tears well up, and I get lost...

For now I will write what I wish I could have found the composure to share at his life celebration last Saturday morning.  

"As long as I can remember, Grandpa had difficulty hearing.  As a young adult, I knew to speak slowly and clearly to him, always facing in his direction so that he could read my lips as I spoke.  But somehow, some way, he could always hear the voices of the children.  I think maybe it had to do more with his heart than it did with his ears.  You see, even as a 90 year old man, with all the wisdom life had provided him, I think he sensed a magic in the inquisitive, searching mind of a child.  

Grandpa "reeling in" a cautious Ky the day after his 90th birthday ~ 2008
He was always special, but there was something even yet more special about him when he was around the littles.  It was as if the years melted away instantly.  His face would become animated and his voice instantly became more audible as he interacted with them. 

in conversation with Caleb about the milk box during our last visit with him ~ May 2010
In addition to being able to hear the littles and converse easily with them, or perhaps because of that, Grandpa had an amazing ability to make them feel at ease, safe and secure.  Our youngest, home just two months at the time she met him, immediately sensed that he was good.  And within 30 minutes of meeting him, she reached up to take his hand as we walked around the farm. 

may 2010, DQ's first trip to the farm
He gave of his time when we called or stopped by.  Any of us.  At any time.  It is likely for this quality that he will be missed, truly missed, by my three young children who lived over 500 miles away.  Time apart and distance are simply not enough to have erased the memories of him lavishly giving his time to them when they visited."

Others did speak.  And things were said that I shall treasure in my heart always. To know that others, outside the family, thought as much of him as I did. 

Then it was time to head to the graveside part of the service.  More tears.

I knew, have always known, that Grandpa was a Marine.  He proudly served our country in the Pacific Theatre during WWII.  And I had seen the flag draped across his coffin (oh that word is painful to type) at the church.  But the men in uniform on the edge of the burial plot with their rifles caught my emotions off guard.  

And then they noticed my cousin's son Josh in his full Army dress and one man stepped out of line so that Josh could step in.  (Wasn't it just yesterday that Josh was a baby boy that my cousin Ann and I tended to during our family celebration for Grandpa's birthday?  Weren't we all just playing a lively game of volleyball before jumping into the pool to cool off?  And yet here we are, on a chilly March morning, with a wind blowing across the yet to be planted cornfields surrounding the cemetery).  I've heard a 21 gun salute before.  And the sound of Taps has always given me chills.  But now those two will forever have a new meaning, bringing a wash of emotions as I remember those moments before, during and after those haunting notes blew across the wind.  The precision of seven rifles being fired at once, three different times; the flag being folded and handed to my dad's oldest sister; wishing, perhaps even feeling as if I needed my dad to still alive to be there to be sitting beside my aunts; my cousin Ann who served in the Navy standing at salute; seeing the gravestone marked Virginia and Vernon and knowing their earthly bodies would very soon be resting side by side; the rest of us doing our best to control the wells of emotion brewing in our souls.  

I found myself doing my best to console my loudly sobbing five year old who made no effort to conceal her grief when she reminded us that we told her we would bring Daniel to meet Grandpa Curly after he came home.  And freed by her release of tears, I too let them flow openly. Many of us did.

Yet in the midst of that grief, there were smiles.  Moments where we looked beyond life here on this Earth and smiled that Grandpa has gone before us to meet our Maker.  Glimpses that while we will greatly miss him here, that there is rejoicing in Heaven at his arrival.  

And then following the service and a meal that was provided, we all went back to the farm to be together for a few more hours before many of us headed out of Ohio the next morning.  Hundreds of pictures were taken.  Pictures of all the great grandchildren on the leaning tree near the tree house, snapshots of things in the house that evoke memories of childhood, frames of the different generations engaged in conversation, my own three children at "the sign."

them posing here at "the sign" is extra sentimental because i know they were accepted by my grandfather 100% into the family
I know that my aunts were all three exhausted, but they graciously stayed and let us all explore the farm, walk back to the "crik," and look through the house one more time.  Because for those of us out of state folks, we knew with dread in our hearts that it will likely be the last time we'll see the farm.  Oh sure, we can drive up to visit with family and drive by, but it probably won't stay in the family.

As the afternoon wore on, I stood with my husband and one of my cousins, watching most of the great grandkids playing a game of kickball in the yard as the sun continued to sink.  I willed time to stop ~ thankful for even the extra hour provided by the switching of the clock just the week before ~ in those moments as the rays began to disappear behind the barn.  Because in the laughter of the kids, when I closed my eyes, I could hear the voices from years gone by.  But then I would open my eyes, and realize that this time, instead of being one of those laughing kids, I was one of the grown-ups watching.  

All too soon it was time to go.  Hugs and kisses were exchanged.  Promises were made to visit soon.  And yet it hurt as pretty much all us knew we would likely not ALL gather together again on this side of Heaven.  

There are no words to express how badly it hurt to drive away and not see him standing at the window waving until we were out of sight.  My mom summed my swirling thoughts up well when she said, "An era has passed..."

What I wouldn't have given ~ our wouldn't give now ~ to hear his quiet, raspy voice tell me to take care of myself and the kids one more time.  To hear him say "I love you now," in that reassuring way once again.  And to feel those hands pat me on the back in that way that conveyed everything when words failed as he hugged me.  

Oh I'll miss you from here Grandpa, until beyond Heaven's gates we meet again...


Ni Hao Yall

Don't know what Sunday Snapshot is?  Stefanie, the creator, describes it as:

"Sunday Snapshot is just a way to capture that special someone or something right now, because we all know time is fleeting... right now will be a distant memory before we know it!"

To join in, stop by her blog to get details.


Jennifer said...

Prayers for you and your family!!!

Lora said...

What beautiful words you have written here about the life of your Grandfarther. I did not know hime, but knowing you and Traci and your families I can only imagine what a great man he was. Your words brought tears to my eyes.
We love you all and will continue to keep you all in our prayers!

Laurie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your sweet memories, Kristi. I have a feeling his legacy will live on for many years to come!

Cedar said...

Lovely post. So sorry for your loss. Glad you have so many sweet memories.

Leslie said...

Beautifully written. We are honored to experience Grandpa Curly's legacy of love through his grandchild and great grandchildren. His love lives on through you.

Rachelle said...

Hugs to you friend.

Heather said...

You and your family have been on my mind all week long. I can see just how much you cherished this special man. Praying for you dear friend!

Ally said...

What a beautiful post. Prayers for you and your family

Di said...

A beautiful eulogy for an obviously much loved and loving man! What a memorial - all that family standing on the steps!

Veronica Lee said...

Beautiful post! So sorry for your loss. Praying for you and your family.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Amy Murphy said...

Oh, Kristi, you made me cry. (and that's not so easy to do.) I'm so sorry for your temporary loss. It is such a great relief to know you will see him again one day where there will be no sickness, no pain, no growing old. You will be able to worship our Creator together in heaven!

Traci said...

Ugg... my heart is ripping out! So well said though. What a special grandfather was had.

Nancy said...

What a beautiful post! I was choked up reading it. Praying for you, friend!

anything but LoKEY said...

I lost my grandfather this year too. It was difficult for us all. He was such a great man and all our kids loved him so much. Your thoughts reminded me so much of my own.

My sincerest condolences. Praying for you and your family!

C.C. said...

What a beautiful tribute!! What a legacy!

Our Journey said...

What a beautiful post! You brought tears to my eyes. What wonderful memories you have of your Grandfather. Prayers to you all during this time.

Laine said...

A perfect tribute...
and I was holding it together until the part about Ky crying...and then the picture of you hugging him at the end...oh that reunion in Heaven will be so sweet, Kristi.
Praying for you all and loving you big!

Shonni said...

what a beautiful post. I am so sorry for your loss!!!

Andrea said...

I wish I could have known him Kristi. What a hero he was in his love and tenderness to each of you.

Julie said...

Beautifully written Kristi!

Glenda said...

Absolutely beautiful, Kristi. I feel like I know your Grandpa, just from your words. You have given him a wonderful memorial. I'm sure his memory will live on through you and your kids. I'm sorry that life has to have these kinds of hurts, but we have to believe that this time here is but a blip compared to eternity, when we see our loved ones again!

Our Journey to China said...

Oh, sweet friend, I am sure you know tears are rolling. I wish I could give you a big hug right now. Know that I am sending one your way wrapped in prayer.

5ennie said...

I am so sorry for your loss. May God wrap His arms around you and comfort you in your sorrow. (((Hugs)))

Wife of the Pres. said...

I miss my Granddaddy still so much.

Reading your beautiful post reminded me of my still raw emotions.

My Granddaddy served as an Army MP in WWII and he too had the service you mentioned. I remember those emotions.

Based on what you've shared on your Grandpa, I am CERTAIN he and my Granddaddy have already met in heaven and are probably trading stories about their grandchildren and "great-grandbabies" too.

Many HUGS and prayers to you Kristi,