I don’t want to do this again.

Just over a week ago, on the evening of the 26th of July, we were driving through Westbank, and Enderby, and Armstrong, British Columbia — just a few of the places my grandparents pastored. It was strange to think of my grandparents being there at the stage of life Marc and I are at/approaching — raising a family and serving the church. Passing through on that day was even more significant because it was one year ago that evening that my granny had the massive stroke that would lead to her death eleven days later. My heart still flutters a bit when I think of those days, those very intense days of saying good-bye. It was a horrible, exhausting, uncertain time, but a beautiful time as well.

Then, with just two days left on our holiday, on the 28th — what would have been my grandparent’s 68th wedding anniversary — I got a call from my mom saying that they finally had results in on my grandpa: he has a massive cancerous tumour on his lungs. There’s nothing the doctors can do. Grandpa was already losing weight and becoming very weak before we’d left three weeks earlier, and by the time they had the results he was always using a walker and beginning to have trouble eating.

It felt like last summer all over again.

You see, last summer my granny had her stroke the day after we got home from our vacation. But this summer, as we were driving into town late in the night, I knew what was coming. Pretty soon I would be back at our house, just two blocks away from where grandpa was, slowly losing his life. And then in a few short weeks our home would no longer be ours and we would be moving almost 1,000 kilometres away. Everything was changing. It was so very hard to drive into the city that night and to think of what we would face and lose in the days ahead.

I went to see my grandpa the next day. I put my head in his lap, he put his arms around me, and we cried together. He said, “I can’t be around forever”. And I know it’s true, but I thought, “Why not?! I want you with me forever!” Losing granny was one thing, but to lose grandpa — my last living grandparent — it all seems so final. That generation is gone. And the rest of us move up in the order of things, one step closer to going ourselves.

Something in me knows that it’s all okay — that it’s going to be okay. And there is something nice about being able to see your family and have your moments to say what needs to be said. But it’s still so very hard. I am just so grateful for the many moments my kids got with granny and grandpa:

Still, there was the moment a few nights ago when I said to Marc, with tears streaming down my face, “So, do you believe in God and heaven and all that?” (Yeah, and we’re the ones off to seminary in a month…) And he said, “I think so… But I know grandpa does.” I just wonder what it’s like to be at the moment when you face your life’s end, what it feels like, and if the doubts fade away. It all seems so scary to me, when I stop and think about it. But then I heard tonight that grandpa wants this hymn sung at his funeral, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned unclean. How marvelous, how wonderful, and my song shall ever be. How marvelous, how wonderful, is my Saviour’s love for me.”

Why does thinking about that make me cry so much? About grandpa being in the presence of the One whom he served all his life and who redeemed him and made him whole again? I know there is peace and comfort in that. But it’s a funny, kind of heart-breaking, peace. Because he’s not going to be here much longer. Because I can’t physically hold onto all of our memories and our love. Because it has to end, even though it doesn’t really.

So here I sit. Another August. Saying good-bye, again, to one of the most important people in my life. I’m so proud of my grandpa. For his quietness and his strength, his love and acceptance, for pushing me in his wheelbarrow and teaching me how to “snap” snapdragons and to play Flinch and Snap. For being adventurous and not afraid to take risks and have fun even into his 90s. I’ve learned so much from him, and I have a feeling I will learn even more from him as I remember him in the years to come.

And I will cherish the days that I have left with him. And when the moment comes to say good-bye and put him in the ground, I’ll be comforted to know that the love continues and I will always be the little girl who loved him so very much.

I love you, Grandpa. Grace and peace be with you in the days ahead. I know you’ll be swinging again soon.

Posted in Family, Memories | 5 Comments

5 Responses to I don’t want to do this again.

  1. Michelle says:

    Thanks Dixie for that beautiful post. The tears are flowing freely over here that’s for sure! Your grandpa was a wonderful man and I’m glad I had the chance of meeting both of your grandparents. I’m now reminded of my own wonderful Gramps and even though I miss him so much I am filled with peace knowing he is so happy in heaven! Love you and sending hugs your way!

  2. Bonnie says:

    Well, I must remind myself not to read your posts first thing in the morning. Bawling like a baby over my coffee right now.

    Well, from someone that has lost their Mother while pregnant with their first child…my Moms first grandchild. I don’t know how we piece it all together and stay that way but we do.

    I questioned Heaven, God the whole thing when Mom was leaving us. Pancreatic cancer is not something anyone wants to witness. BUT…I did sit there many nights asking God why she was laying there suffering, why could he not just take her.

    I am so sorry your Grandpa is ill. I don’t know what I could say to ease your pain. HUGS my friend….HUGS.

  3. Don Hendricks says:

    Dixie, your heart renching prose is so touching and true. Your doubts and questions so completely legitimate and one of the actual advances in our Christian world, that we don’t have to stuff our feelings thinking God is offended by our fears.

    Living ten years with heart disease has sent me just a bit early on the same journey that people like your grandad go as age advances. Its not that you are any more ready than you were, but you have seen enought to know that God’s grasp on you is greater than yours on Him, and always has been. Your salvation has always been about the faith of Christ, not your faith in Christ.

    And memory, is the imprint of our existence as the very crown of creation, in His image. The other issue is our need to see that heaven in ages to come, is a place on earth, a renewed earth, and that is another legacy your generation of servants will have a better grasp upon.

    I am so thankful to have stumbled upon your lives

  4. amber says:

    hi dixie. i am so sad for you. i pretty much held my breath throughout this whole post. reading your words was hard, and yet, there is a certain happiness too about your words.

    my grandpa too, is dying of a ‘there’s nothing we can do’ cancer. it’s terribly hard to think about what is to come and yet, he is going to meet JESUS soon! it is just too much for my little mind to grasp.

    blessings to you today dixie. and i will be praying for you & your grandpa.

  5. […] In this post, I talked about driving back to Prince Albert late in the evening, arriving home from our vacation, and having to face the fact that my grandpa was dying in this city and that within weeks that city would no longer be our home. I’m not going to lie. I spent the last half hour of that car ride crying my little eyes out. Part of it was because Marc had put on one of my favourite albums: Fernando Ortega’s Shadow of Your Wings. We wake up to this album every morning. It is so beautiful and gives me a little bit of peace every time I listen to it. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta