I just got off the phone with my Grandma (the above picture is my sister and I with Grandma and Grandpa 2 yrs ago). She’s 80-something, a hardcore Mennonite from Illinois, and she’s dying.
What do you say??? My mom said I was lucky, because she was actually very responsive. I told her I loved her many times, talked a little about seminary when she asked how I was. And I prayed for her. It was hard, but good to be able to talk with her. My mom flew back last Saturday, thinking that grandma was fading fast. She is still with us, but is so ready to go and be with Jesus. Every morning she wakes up, she says, “Oh…I’m still here. Well, one morning I won’t be disappointed.” She keeps looking for Jesus and is ready. I wrote Grandma & Grandpa a letter, which is below. Again, it’s hard to know what to say in a letter you know will probably be the last you’ll ever communicate with someone. Below is my attempt.
26 April, 2004
Dear Grandma & Grandpa,
Shalom to you in the name of Jesus. I am sorry that I cannot be with you right now, but know that I love you both dearly, and I am praying for you.
Grandma, I love you. You have always seemed to be a strong woman of God; strong, but quiet. I know God has used you in amazing ways – you gave birth to a large family, shared with them the love of Christ, taught them the ways of Christ and have been a loving grandma to more grandchildren than I can count right now. You were faithful in the delivery of Birthday cards filled with dimes (I always looked forward to that). While we always lived a great distance from you, I loved the times I spent in Freeport visiting you.
[I just got off the phone with you grandma, mom called. It was wonderful to hear your voice, to be able to pray for you and talk with you.]
Grandma – you have lived a long and wonderful life. You should have no regrets. You have lived the life that Jesus called us to live; the life that Jesus said would inherit eternal life. You have loved God – first and foremost; and you have loved others. We have all felt your love. Be at peace. Rest in the presence of the God who is cradling you in His Arms, who is whispering softly into your ear, and who is calling you to be with Him for eternity. You are God’s Beloved – be at peace knowing that.
Grandpa, I love you. You have always seemed to be a strong man of God; a grandfather who I loved and respected. Your love for God is evident in all things. I will never forget the visit we last made to Freeport, during July of 2002. We stayed with you, and late in the evening (after I thought you had gone to bed) I went downstairs to use the bathroom. I heard your voice in the TV room, and I thought you might be on the phone. As I peered into the room, I saw you making a great effort to stand up, turn yourself around so you were facing your chair, and get down on your knees. Once situated, I heard you begin, “Oh, Lord Jesus.” I know it would have been hard for you to get down on your knees – but you wanted to pray.
Grandpa, you are a man of prayer – and that image of you praying in your TV room will always be with me. May prayer sustain you through this time of transition. May God bless you with peace, the peace that passeth all understanding.
Grandma and Grandpa, I love you. I leave you with this scripture, which I know is a favorite of yours.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Love in Christ, your grandson,