On Friday, October 24th, my grandfather passed away. Today I had the honour of presiding at his funeral with the help of a friend. Here are the words I shared.
A couple days ago I asked on Facebook if anyone had any stories to send me to share about Gramps. I’d like to share some of those stories now.
Nothing. Thanks for the help everyone.
I heard some of you say you couldn’t think of anything appropriate to share. To that I say, you clearly you had a different relationship with my grandfather than I.
So, now I’ll just start sharing my own memories, and if I feel like it, I’ll randomly add some of your names, at your risk.
There’s many stories that come to mind which I think show how Gramps impacted our lives.
He loved the outdoors. Driving with him was usually an adventure. And you could count on some mischief for sure.
I can sum up all of those in one story. I remember he came down to Bridgewater one year to help dad cut firewood. Something was wrong with his chainsaw and he had to come back to Windsor to get it looked at. Apparently Bridgewater didn’t have chain saw stores, I dunno. I volunteered to make the trip with him. We were cruising along towards the highway, not yet on the highway, when we entered a 50kph zone. He looked down and said, “100 is close enough.”
And people wonder where some of us got our lead foot from.
Birthdays were also usually an adventure. I think we’ve all hard our turns being victims. I have to ask, did anyone butter his nose on his 90th birthday?
For a man of 90 years, he looked pretty good. And as I was thinking about him over the weekend I recalled how good of shape he was always in. I memory which was well reinforced last night when I was looking at the pictures. Grampy had some guns.
I think it was when Carrie was small I remember he was on the floor with her. He was encouraging her to try and move around on her own. You know, to use her arms a bit more. He would have been around 60 then. And he started doing pushups, trying to get her to do the same. Knuckle pushups at that!
How many 60 year olds do you know that can do that? I can’t think of too many off the top of my head.
I know the war was hard on him, and he came back with what we would probably call today, PTSD. I know it wasn’t always easy. But like many things in life, he was able to overcome it. Being in artillery certainly would have been a very tough role to play in the war.
He didn’t share many war stories. I know a couple of you may have heard a few. Not many veterans do share stories. They bring back too many bad memories. Being the chaplain for the local legion in Sydney Mines, I do get to hear some of them. I’ve counseled and prayed with Afghan veterans who’s lives were being ripped apart by the memories of what they saw. I’ve sat in the living rooms of WW2 vets who share some of the less painful stories, one’s that usually can evoke a smile or a chuckle, and only now that many years have passed.
Gramps is why I’m a Legion chaplain. This stole is the one they gave me when I took on the position. When they asked me to consider it, I didn’t think twice, because I did it for him. Those stories I hear reinforce why he is a hero to me, because I now know how hard it was hard for him.
We have so many great memories of Gramps, whether they are appropriate or not. Living in Bridgewater I may not have had as much time with him as many of the rest of you had, but I remember a man who was quick with a smile and always ready for a laugh.
And a card game.
A couple years ago I was visiting him in Camp Hill and we played a couple games of crib. And I beat him. I beat him bad. The cards were coming my way that day, and he was getting nothing. It was time to go and he said thanks for playing, congratulated me on playing well, and I left.
I never, EVER beat him again!
I KNEW I should have retired from playing right there.
So many great memories for all of us.
Let’s be honest though, I doubt many of us expected to have 10 more years with him after Gram passed away. Even though he seemed determined to make it to his 100th birthday. Mom said he commented not long ago he just maybe he wasn’t going to make it that far after all. We can’t forget to mention his stubborn determination, even after we almost lost him 3 years ago.
I think some of us have also inherited that stubbornness gene too. I won’t name names, but some of them might be with us this afternoon.
His humour and his BIG smile are what I’ll remember most. And always that mischievous twinkle in his eye.
And now he’s been reunited with Gram and Leonard, and other family who have gone before us.
In the reading from the John 14, Jesus told his disciples he was going to go and prepare a place, a room, for those who follow him.
And now Gramps has gone home to God to find the room which has been prepared for him. A reminder that when life on this earth ends, there is a whole new life waiting for us in God’s presence.
Jesus promised to never leave us as orphans, parentless. We are all children of God. And God does not leave us. Jesus said he would send a helper, and he has. The Holy Spirit walks with us and guides us if we are open to hearing from it.
And in times of death, this is the hope we search for. We have hope in knowing God has welcomed Gramps into his kingdom. We have hope in someday being reunited with him and all our loved ones when God brings us into His presence.
We hope to know we truly are not alone. We have each other. We have our families and friends. We have a God who loves us unconditionally. So much so He sent His Son, Jesus, to show us the depth of His love.
A Son who would give his life so that we may too have eternal life with God.
We ask God to hold Gramps in His arms. We ask God to restore him to wholeness, and to take him to all our loved ones until we can all be reunited in the party of all parties when God’s love is fully known.
We love you Gramps. We will miss you. We will see you again. Rest in peace.