My great-Uncle Carl died this past week. In so many ways, I barely knew him. All my life I’ve heard stories of Charlotte, his wife and my grandmother’s younger sister, but there haven’t been too many about him and my memories are few.
I remember mornings at Lloyds for coffee, every time we came to visit.
I remember going to see him at Brookside, the assisted living facility in our town, and hearing him mention World War II. He didn’t say but a few words. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized he was a veteran. Later I pestered my mother and grandmother for details. They said they didn’t know much, he didn’t like to talk about it.
He participated in the liberation of Dachau, Germany. They said his eyes would cloud when he spoke of the concentration camp. So much suffering. He did not speak of it, even to his wife, for many years.
With Uncle Carl’s death came a lot of other memories. Memories of Grandpa, who died 6 years ago now.
Six long, long years.
I miss him.
Grandma said that Grandpa was exempt from the draft because he was needed to run the farm. He offered to go but the war was almost over anyway. So he stayed and ran the farm and raised his children. Eventually, after 6 rough and tumble boys, they had a daughter. My mama.
The one thing I wish I could change in life is the fact that my husband never met my Grandfather. Amos and I had our first date when I was back in the United States for Grandfather’s funeral. I’ve often wished he could have met him, just once.
Then this past week Amos came home from work and started telling me about his trip to Harrisville. Another great-Uncle needed some work done on a tractor in the sugar bush, so my husband drove down with him.
“We talked about your Grandpa,” Amos said, “Don told me a lot of stories. He told me about when your Grandfather found Jesus.”
I sat beside my husband and cried.
Because you see, Grandpa didn’t really find the Lord until he was almost fifty. He had lived a “good” life but he didn’t know Jesus…until God met him.
And that’s the part that makes me cry with joy.
God met him.
In the middle of everyday life, the King of the Universe came down and took the time to reveal himself to my Grandpa.
Uncle Don told my husband about the day that Grandpa came to him and said, “It’s true. Everything I’ve heard about Jesus is true. He’s real.”
I only ever knew Grandpa as a solid Christian man who spoke with gentleness and boldness. One who would hold my face in his hands and say, “I’m so, so glad, Natasha, that you know Jesus.”
He did that more than once and I can still feel his hands and hear his voice. I remember him praying for me and for all his children and grandchildren. He would pray with hands shaking, begging God to show Himself to each and every one of us.
I’m so glad that Grandpa lived Jesus in my life. Because I found the God who comes right down and eats meals with sinners and touches lives with grace and meets the lost, the broken, the deaf, the blind, the hungry. The God who created and loves me.
Death always brings life into clearer focus.
I don’t want my life to be just something I live. I want to leave memories like my Grandfather did. I may never have children to speak truth into, in which case, I will never have grandchildren to bless, but I can still do it.
I can still breathe Jesus onto the hurting. I can still hold my niece’s face in my hands and say, “I am so, so glad that you know Jesus.”
Because I am.
Because He didn’t just meet with my Grandpa, He met with me too.