Saturday, November 17, 2012

He directed our paths

In a strange turn of events known as the sovereignty of God, my Dad's dad, Pepaw, died about 36 hours after my last post.

So, about 60 hours after my last post, my husband and I were on a plane headed to Birmingham, Alabama, where my Dad would pick us up.

Jim's dad was already in Alabama, because HIS mother had fallen and broken her pelvis a few days earlier. My father-in-law delayed his flight to attend Pepaw's funeral Saturday morning. After the funeral, at lunch, he got word that she had had a stroke and was going to the hospital again. Then Sandy slammed into New England and all of our flights were delayed, my father-in-law's twice. It was a strange, sad, and happy time, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

As God's schedule was revealed to us, it was indeed a reminder that we have no saying over what might happen from day to day. We make plans. We book flights. We invite friends over for weekends weeks in advance. Then someone dies. Then a routine doctor's visit becomes serious. Then a life-long assumption and dream becomes a crushed ache. And once again, we are driven back... back to the realization that we are but a vapor... and that HE is God of all, mightier than the sea, brighter than the sun, and holier than we will ever understand.

The brightest truth of the whole weekend was that Pepaw had become a Christian only a few years before his death. Knowing that he was looking at Christ's face, that he was finally walking again (his biggest lament in his final years was, "If I could just WALK again..."), eased that strange upset of my insides when I looked at the body of my grandfather resting in the coffin. It is a difficult thing, wrestling sorrow and joy all at once.

The last time I had seen him was in July, the day before Jim and I left for our new home. For most of my life, Pepaw had been a loving, protective, yet often very gruff man. In was only in the last ten or so that we all noticed a softening. Maybe it was his awareness of his diminishing health. Maybe the realization that he was no longer independent. Maybe because we were all grown-up now. Whatever it was, we started to see Pepaw cry. Cry when we said goodbye. Cry at certain memories. Cry when we walked in the door. So, I wasn't surprised that he cried when I went for one last hug in July. I was crying too. He looked so frail, in his wheelchair and white V-neck undershirt. Thus, my embrace was gentle and I wondered if this truly was my last hug. His arms crept around me and to my surprise, pulled me in tight with strength I didn't know he had. It was a long, terrible wonderful hug. While deep inside, I was hoping that I would see him again, it was like he knew the truth. Call me dramatic, but he had never, ever hugged me with such strong tenderness.

And so, for now, he is gone. And we all continue with the vapor we have left without him. His bride is alone for the first time in 65 years. Both of my parents no longer have earthly fathers. And we are remembering that we are but passing through, and that THE Father is waiting to call all of his children to their eternal home with him.