Our Family Refuge

Heartbroken is an understatement.

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Today my grandpa joined my grandma in their heavenly home.

While he had been declining honestly since my grandma passed 5 years ago, I don’t think knowing the end is coming makes it easier to bear. There is still so much pain knowing that I will never get to hear his voice again saying, “Is that my youngest granddaughter?”

My grandpa was one of a kind.

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He had one of those magnetic personalities that everyone seemed to love. And he loved everyone right back. I was always in awe of his spirit and love of the Lord. He was one of those people that when he walked into a room his presence was felt.

He would randomly mail us pictures of scriptures that he had clipped from various paper goods. He always made a point to bring it back to God.

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He had a gift of talking to people. He wrapped his love around everyone he met, and no one was a stranger for long. He always had this uncanny ability to connect souls through stories. He had so many stories from his childhood, working and delivering for Coca Cola, driving a school bus, to his pastoral days.

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And he could make just about anything too. He was so skilled with wood working, and he would save so much thinking about how he could weave it into his next project. I still have all the things he hand-made us over the years from a hope chest, hand mirror, to even doll furniture for my American Girl doll. These things aren’t just things. They hold precious memories of his love for us.

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He was always a person you could call to help you figure something out. He was so patient, but he made jokes with you the whole time. He had an answer for anything. And he would drop anything for you. I think we all spent countless days at my grandparents’ house as kids (and as adults). They were our refuge.

He and my grandma were the epitome of a great marriage. Watching their love was something magical. The way he spoke in adoration of Grandma was a force to be reckoned with. And that love spilled over to their kids, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He knew how to make us all feel so special and wonderful. I hope I always remember the way his voice lifted as he would call our names out in joy. He was so proud of his family, and you could just feel it in the way that he talked.

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I was always so grateful in how he treated Tom too. He was always intentional to be invested in our relationship and how Tom was doing. He always asked about his job and his parents and cheered him on as if he had been part of our family our whole lifetimes. He was an important part of who we are, and I am so glad that I will forever have the memory of him being part of our wedding day.

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He was a refuge for our family. He was the pillar that we all looked to for so many things.

I have so many memories of him, but some of my favorite were wrapped around my grandparents’ dinner table. From making home made ice cream, eating shrimp for Thanksgiving, to saying grace with such emotion that we’d either be laughing so hard or be brought to tears. His life filled ours with such beautiful moments.

It is going to be hard to go back to Kansas City now and not feel the pain that we can’t pop over to his house for a little visit. I am sure we will be feeling this for years to come. He was home for many reasons.

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I am so thankful that we were able to see him a couple weeks ago and spend an entire afternoon together just swapping stories. And he will live on in all of us, but especially in one little boy, who I can only imagine is just like Grandpa was as a kid.

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When I told George today that Grandpa went to heaven, he wrapped me up in his little arms and kissed my tear-stricken face. He told me that Grandpa was special and that he was with Jesus now. (Don’t worry he still acted like a five year old and said he was glad he got Grandpa’s train sets.) I am not sure if he fully got it that we will never go to Grandpa’s house again to play with Lincoln logs, but I am so glad they were able to have a relationship together even if it was for a short time here on Earth. They were two peas in a pod.

My hope is that we are able to carry on his legacy of grace and love and extend our own tables out to others. And bring back the era of homemade ice cream.

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