“We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14
Climbing in the truck, we headed north to Papope’s and Mama’s house. The dirt road was my favorite because he would pull over at the store and let me sit on his lap to drive the wheel and then once closer to driving age I took over the peddles. My grandfather loved to drive and was always up for a drive. Even in his early nineties he drove to town almost every day. During the few weeks that I spent with them most summers, he opened the backdoor after work and said, “Come on. We are going for a drive.” So, we took off through the fields. Throwing my hands in the air I pretended like we were on a roll coaster. On the back roads in Kentucky, he sped up before a hill, so that just as we crested it, we would come out of our seats enough to feel like we were riding a roller coaster. My grandmother would say, “Floyd Pope slow down.” Not sure if we had more fun at the drive-in movie or on the drive. I would say that it was a close tie since we saw Star Wars.
From gardens, fields, work, to church, the adventures never ended. When I was not helping my grandmother prepare the vegetables from the garden to be frozen for the winter, I loved going to work with him. I would play on vintage adding machines pretending to add up sales from the day, then I would take a break to get a bottle of Coke from the old Coke machines. Not many people owned drink machines that dispensed bottles of sodas, so it was a big treat. After many summers of going to work with him, I definitely see where my mom got her love for numbers and later became an accountant.
He was generous and served his church and community as a County Commissioner for 42 years among other roles. During the last week of his life, he was still thinking of others. He wanted to make sure that the storm damage to a rental house had been fixed. Each Sunday, he sat on the same pew, and before the service children would come by for a stick of chewing gum. Often the church would call him to the nursery to calm down an unhappy child. The tremor in his arm did not scare children but was an automatic bounce.
In late May of this year when the doctor at the hospital un-hocked his defibrillator and told our family that my grandfather might only have a week to live, it seemed too short. Even after a full life of 95 years living with his loved ones ending that relationship could not be what God designed. In his last few days, I saw a glimpse of how relationships never end for those who are Christians. Two days before he died while I was holding his hand and praying for him as he slept, he was talking out loud and it sounded like the same language that I heard the week before when he looked past me and started talking to someone with words that we could not understand. This time when he was talking, I heard him say, “hello” and saw him lift his arm to wave at someone. To experience him transitioning into eternity was such an encouragement that we will see him again in Heaven. Our good-bye was not final but a “see you later.”
Kathryn’s story of losing her mom and looking to God as a parent to teach her how to be a better wife and mother will encourage you if you have experienced the loss of a parent.