Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Grampa's Faith

"Who's that blonde woman sitting next to your Aunt Shirley?"

In a room that saw anywhere from 125-175 people over the course of the day and knowing that my family is larger than I could ever put my head around, I looked at this small blonde woman in the black raincoat sitting with her legs crossed on the other side of the room. She looked sad and respectful, occasionally glancing over at Grampa.

"I have no idea... but, there's a better than 90% chance I'm related to her. I'll ask my mom, she'll probably know."

A few minutes later my mom came over to where we were sitting. "Who's that blonde woman sitting next to Aunt Shirley?"

This meant I was not related to her, but I could tell from the way that she was sitting and the way she kept looking at Grampa that she definitely played some sort of important role in his life. My mom walked over to her and introduced herself with a smile; a trait she definitely got from Grampa. I watched as the woman stood up and spoke to my mom, holding her hands as she explained her relationship to him. At the end of the conversation, my mom gave her a big hug and left the room.

I went after her, because she was crying.

"Mom, what happened? Are you OK? Who is that woman?"

"She's some sort of minister. For the last three years she has found Grampa on Sundays when he can't be at church and made sure he received Communion. She visited him in rehab, and in the hospital, and always made sure he received."

This small blonde woman with the respectful smile and the black raincoat was my Grampa's Eucharistic Minister.

I thought back to one of my early visits with him at Greenbriar (the rehab facility he most often went to in order to get his strength back). On the wall I saw that they had Mass on Tuesdays rather than Sundays. I brought this up to Grampa, and he expressed his frustration that the rehab had no way to serve Communion on Sunday. This was very important to him... and God responded by sending him someone who would serve him each week. This small blonde woman in the black raincoat was indeed a very important person to Grampa.

When I think about Grampa, I think about a lot of things. I think about french toast and baseball and puzzles and coffee and good books and a big happy smile. But... I also think about his faith. This was a man who carried his rosary with him to every hospital visit, every surgery, every recovery in the rehab. A man who shed a tear when he heard the song "Amazing Grace". A man who lived and breathed Christ's love through his love of his family and his work through the Knights of Columbus. A man who when he found out that I had come to Christ wanted to see the program from my church, and who was more excited than my other family members when he found out we were running a youth group. "That's very, very important," he told us.

I haven't cried much this week. I thought and prayed about it this week because I find it strange that I'm NOT crying.

Then I realized...

I'll miss Grampa terribly. He was a cornerstone of our family and taught us what family meant. He was an amazing person.

But he was strong in his faith in Christ. Grampa is at peace now, and has taken his place in God's Kingdom. I'll see him again, not for a long time, but I'll see him again in Heaven.

And there is an amazing comfort in that.


Laura said...

Yes, yes it is. It can really mean all the difference in being able to let that person go. ::huge hugs::

Love you.

Maria said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather. It sounds like you have some wonderful memories of him. It's good that you know he is at peace now.

jmcourt6 said...

I feel like I have gotten to know your Grampa through your blog and Facebook page. He seems like he was a powerful man of God, a wonderful example to all who were around him. You are blessed to have had him in your life. Thank you for sharing bits of him with us......