Monday, May 09, 2011

Our Grandad, Stephen Leroy Angell, September 3, 1919 - May 6, 2011

Growing up, Grandad lived just down the road. Often as kids, we would walk down the narrow trail in the woods that meandered to his house. I remember as a young boy taking that trip to spend a special afternoon with Grandad playing a board game, or looking at his collection of artifacts from his foreign travels. When Grandad was home on Bentley Farm, he would usually join us for supper, walking up that same footpath from his house to ours, and arriving in his trademark Hawaiian shirt.

Those evenings were special and memorable. Grandad was a fun character or as he would put it "a scalawag"! Grandad would rough house with us kids, putting us in "traps" and not letting us go until we said "Uncle!". Grandad would sometimes surprise us, with pieces of his favorite cinnamon gum or little bars of soap or bottles of shampoo from his travels abroad. Or he would sometimes really surprise us by offering us a portion of dandelion salad or some other tasty culinary creation. Grandad was a gentle soul. He would hold the youngest member of our growing family in the rocking chair after dinner and usually both of them would be asleep by the end of the evening. During family devotions, Grandad loved to sing and to harmonize. Two of his favorite songs were "Fairest Lord Jesus" and "Seek Ye First (the Kingdom of God)". On one particular evening, Sarah was playing guitar and softly sang to us a song that touched Grandad's heart--so much so that he requested that Sarah play and sing the song in his memory when he passed away. That time has come and Sarah is now living in Kansas, but the words remain among us.

And Jesus said "Come to the waters
Stand by my side.
I know you are thirsty,
You won't be denied.
I've felt every tear drop
When in darkness you cried.
And I strove to remind you,
That for those tears I died."

Jesus, I give you my heart and my soul.
I know that without you I'd never be whole.
Savior you open all the right doors.
And I thank you and praise you from this earthly shore.
Take me I'm yours.

A decade or so ago, Grandad sold his house and moved to a retirement community outside Philadelphia. The narrow path between our houses is now hidden by brambles. His old house is for sale again. But even though this life is transient, physical distance can separate us, and death and decay is a present reality, our hope is that Grandad heard choirs of angels singing the words of this song he loved so as he breathed his last--and that he joined their voices in perfect harmony.

We'll miss you Grandad!