I remember it like it was yesterday. It was my accounts paper, the last of my exams. I was having fun answering my final question when half-way through it something happened - I froze. No, it wasn’t memory block, I just froze and a weird feeling came over me.
Arriving home that night, I was greeted at the door by mom. I could see relatives seated in the living room, an unusual site for a weekday. So immediately, I knew that something had gone terribly wrong. Dreading the answer, I asked: “What’s wrong?” They all looked at me with pity in their eyes, then mother replied: “Papa gone!”
What followed next was strange--I entered a zone I had not been before. I ran to the bedroom (still holding onto my folder and rucksack) threw myself onto the bed and I was out of control. The tears kept flowing, the sound of my cry got louder and louder and their voices in the background became distant and made no sense to me.
I knew they were only trying to comfort me, but I had a dream which could no longer come true. It was always my intention to return home and spend time with grandpa and take him places, shower him with gifts and let him know how much I love him and appreciate the time that he and grandma invested in bringing me up. But that was no longer possible.
I was angry with myself for not going back before, angry at mom for taking me away in the first place, and nothing you could say to me, at the time, would help. So I cried and I cried some more but I could hear them saying: “Stop the crying…crying is not going to bring him back.” It was hard to imagine he wasn’t coming back. My imagination started to run wild and soon I started believing that 'grandpa' was gone abroad, on another trip, and soon would return.
This month (July 2006) is the 11th anniversary of his passing and maturity has allowed me to look back on the times we’ve had together with fun memories. I now accept that his time on earth has ended, so this month I celebrate his life and thank God for the time he was here with us.
One of my fun memories are story telling times with granddad. Granddad loved telling stories, often short and humorous. One story that stuck to my mind is that of a lady who had to walk many miles to the market to sell fruits. She was carrying a basket of fruits on her head when someone stopped to offer her a ride in a pickup van. She accepted the ride. However, instead of putting the basket down and taking a seat, she stood for the entire journey, carrying the load on her head. I used to get embarrassed when he tells that story as part of his sermons because my friends would all tease me about it. So once I see him get up and approach the pulpit, I always secretly hope that he wouldn’t tell that particular story.
However, today I can say: “Thank you granddad for repeating that story so many times.” Had it not been for the repetitiveness of that story, I would not have memorised it and hence, would not have been able to draw the necessary meanings from it. As an adult I often am reminded to take my burdens to the cross, and leave it there; knowing that I do not have to carry the load all the way, simply by visualising granddad on the pulpit telling that one story.
The moment I froze in that accounts exam, I later learned that it was the appointed time when granddad was called home. Granddad's work on earth had ended, for him 'it is finished'.
I was told that he called all the grandchildren around his death bed and gave them all individual responsibilities, including looking after grandma and remembering the Creator in the days of 'thy youth'. Though I wasn't at his side, our spirit somehow connected at that point. I wonder what task he had for me and whether through the spirit I have received?
He has left behind children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who in their own individual way has a task to carryout until the day we're called home or our Saviour comes.
Janice,I reflected on the death of my brother when I read your emotions here.I felt the same way.I have lost a sister,brother, dad, all grandparents, and others.Well, let me rephrase that...I haven't lost anyone..they are all waiting for me and were counted worthy to go first, for I know they loved Jesus and were saved.Thank you for this piece.
January 8, 2011 will mark 10 years since my dad was called Home, but he, like your granddad, has never left my heart and memories. He had his task and when complete went to be with the Father. His departure was sudden and shocking, for Dad as well, but the Lord knew what He was doing and carried us all through the grief and loss - even in death He is with us. Because of that, I can live each day with no fear going about completing my appointed task until He says of me, "it is finished" and I pass into eternity in His Presence.
Jan, you have blessed us with your reflections on the passing of your granddad. So many of us have walked that road too, and it is good to recall those precious memories. My parents, grandparents, two siblings, and all but two of my many aunts and all of my uncles are passed from this life. When I recall the times I had with them, those memories are just like it says in the song: "precious memories."