Monday, September 01, 2008

Reflections by the Doorway to Eternity

Our family was with Grandpa in our living room when he died today.

His death was fairly sudden although Grandpa had been virtually unable to move, talk, eat or interact for the last five years. He woke up this morning congested, and by late this afternoon his body, normally rigid with Parkinson's, was completely limp. At supper time, I started to move Grandpa into the living room so that he could sit with us for dinner and evening devotions, but I did not make much progress, as it became immediately obvious that Grandpa's breathing was becoming slow and unsteady. The whole family stood by Grandpa's side as his color left him; tears were streaming down our faces as we began to pray to our Heavenly Father to receive and love our Grandpa. We continued to pray and hold him as he breathed his last breath. He surrendered his spirit so peacefully. How I dearly hope that he knew of our love as he left this earth. What a tearful, tearful time.

And what a reflective time. Nothing speaks of the mystery of life more than death. One moment the breath of life is here; one moment the breath of life is gone. How tentative. How short is the time that we sojourn upon this earth; how massive is the eternity that is before us. How unimportant so many of our daily thoughts become in light of what we face when the bell tolls; how important are our efforts to enter simply and solely into a life of love.

When we finally did gather for devotions this evening, Grandpa's silent presence among us was so glaringly absent. I could no longer sit beside him and stroke his hand while we sang and read and prayed. You wouldn't think that a silent gentleman, who spent the last five years just sitting or sleeping could leave such a huge hole. But Grandpa did.

Caring for one who is frail and dying is a tremendous privilege. It is sad that so many of our elderly are tucked away beyond our view. It is the presence of the frail and dying in our daily lives that provide needed windows into eternity; we see and understand the closeness of life eternal and we are taught to live our lives in reverence of a coming day.

It is also the presence of the frail and dying among us that brings us closest to the body of Jesus. When we feed the hungry, comfort the sick and clothe the naked, we feed, comfort and clothe Jesus. What an absolute privilege. Thank you, Grandpa, for the humility that you adopted to so take upon the life of Jesus. We know Him more through you.

Grandpa, you are dearly missed. I love you so much. May you fully know, without the chains of body and disease, the depth of your Creator's delight in you.

I will be yours
You will be mine
Forever in eternity

Our hearts of love
Will be entwined

(Details concerning funeral arrangements will be listed in a later post, along with a commemorative piece celebrating the life of our Grandpa, Ross Jeffrey Farmer.)