My grandfather passed away unexpectedly yesterday.
I still don’t believe it. I’m writing this and it doesn’t feel real. My counselor training tells me this would be grief stage number one: denial.
I am thinking and feeling so many things right now that I don’t even know what to say. Except this: I am so glad I did my homework, and that I did it early.
One of my assignments for my family therapy class is to make a genogram of the past four generations and include key events and depictions of members’ relationships with one another. Being an observant (nosy) individual with an excellent memory, I already felt like I had all the information that I needed to complete the assignment and didn’t need any help from other relatives.
But for some reason I felt I should do it right and ask my Grandpa Mock about his heritage. I sent a quick email and didn’t expect much in way of a response. What I got was a ten-page, three chapter short story about my family through his eyes – much more than I needed for the assignment.
I thanked him and told him that I would save his words so that one day I could share them with my children if they wanted to know about their ancestry. Then I told him that I loved him.
Fast forward ten days. My genogram isn’t due for another eight days, and my grandpa isn’t here anymore.
Never in my life have I been more thankful that I am such an overprepared overachieving perfectionist. If I hadn’t, I would have so much regret right now.
Still, it’s so much more than that. God’s sovereignty is so real to me right now. His fingerprints are written all over the events of the past several weeks, and even during his final visit last spring.
I said it before and I will say it again. I did not want to talk to Grandpa about this project. Yet I couldn’t get it off my mind and felt compelled to do the assignment right. So I did. And while I didn’t understand everything he told me, I let him tell his story. I listened to what he had to say. And I did so with all love and no resentment.
Thank you, Holy Spirit, for using the smallest things to make a difference.
I don’t know if Grandpa was a believer, so this is really hard. I don’t know if I will see him again. I want to hope. I want to think he will be. He was getting ready for church when he died. I want to talk myself into believing he is with the Lord right now.
I just don’t know.
But this is what I do know. I know that the same Spirit that pounded on my heart’s door a month ago and caused me to reach out to him is the same Spirit that was speaking to him in little ways even to the end. He didn’t come back east to see us much after he retired to Arizona, but he came last spring, and I was able to make it back from Williamsburg to see him for the first time since the summer after I finished high school. My sisters all got baptized that Sunday morning, and Grandpa asked them to send him their written testimonies that they read at church.
…Maybe that mattered….
Then there was this autobiography. He expressed regret over some of the decisions he’d made and their consequences. He made it clear that he loved us all deeply. Then he thanked me.
“This exercise has been a bit cathartic for me! I afraid that at least some of that is still too sensitive for me to get into – so excuse me for huge holes there.”
There are some things in his life that he didn’t need to explain to me. There are some questions that don’t need to be answered publicly, especially to his granddaughter. But maybe, just maybe, this “exercise” lasted longer than the time it took to write me an email. Maybe the questions lingered. Maybe he fought through the emotions that always made it easier to just not address it. Maybe he finally found the redemption, forgiveness, and peace he needed.
…Maybe my homework was part of God’s sovereign plan…
I don’t know. I may not ever know in this life.
But I know this: I listened to God’s voice. I did the right thing, and while I have the pain of loss tonight, I don’t have the pain of regret.
I did the right thing.
I loved the Lord.
I listened to His voice.
I love my Grandpa.
I listened to his story.
May I always be this responsive to His leading, even when the reason doesn’t become so clear.