Friday, February 28, 2014

Saying Goodbye, Yet Remembering

I am not exactly sure how to begin this post . . . the past few weeks have been difficult and sad, yet special and memorable ones as well. I know what I'll share here won't even begin to express the emotions and all that happened 'behind the scenes', but at least it will give you an idea of what has been filling our lives and hearts the past few weeks.

I believe I have shared here before that my Grandpa (my Dad's Dad) had a form of dementia called Picks Disease which eventually led to him needing to be in a Veteran's Home. About the time I did my last post a few weeks ago, we got word that he had begun to rapidly decline in health and was placed on hospice comfort care. They expected him to go at any moment and called the family in.

With the very cold weather, we were unable to leave because of our animals so one of my aunts kept us updated via the phone. She also let us call her cell phone and leave a message for Grandpa which she played over and over to him and talked to him about us. It was very hard not being there! But this made it a little easier.

Unlike had been expected, he lingered a long week and half until he passed away a week ago from this past Monday. The weather warmed up just enough the days of the visitation and funeral that we were all able to go which we were so thankful to the Lord for.

I loved my Grandpa so very dearly, and he is going to be greatly missed!


I remember the last time I saw him, we had gone to see him at the Veteran's Home. I knelt beside him, and he took my hand and held it and held it. Every once in awhile, he'd give it a little squeeze. The entire time we were there, I knelt by him like that with my hand in his. That was the last time I saw my Grandpa, and I am so thankful for this special memory!

It is our great hope that we will see him again in heaven, yet we do not know . . . we had shared the gospel with him many times over the years, and his heart had seemed receptive. The phone message that was played for him also included my Dad briefly sharing the gospel with him once again. It is our hope that at some point he trusted in Jesus Christ alone as his Savior!

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As mentioned, we were all able to go up to Nebraska for the visitation/funeral as the weather was warm enough here, but it wasn't quite as nice the further northwest we got! Our drive was long and slow thanks to first heavy rain, then freezing rain and icy roads, then wintry mix and still treacherous roads, and eventually snow and very strong winds. We finally made it there safely and the storm had moved through, even letting the sun peek through some.

Driving slow thanks to ice on the roads!

Poor visibility due to the snow

The only photos that I took during the trip were while we were driving so all of the ones shared here are courtesy of other family members who utilized their cameras and phones.

At the visitation with two of my cousins' children . . . I enjoyed spending time with them both! Can you tell by his smile, that Evin is quite the little tease? :) Ava remembered me and Leah from the last time we saw her, and she wanted to spend a lot of time with us. She is such an affectionate little girl, and I cannot tell you how many hugs I got from her over the few days we were there!

The visitation was a mix of sadness, tears, and also enjoyable times with family. It was wonderful to be able to spend so much time together with Grandma, my Aunts and Uncles, my cousins, and my cousins' children as well. Some of my cousins I hadn't seen in 10+ years so it was especially nice to see them and catch up a bit! It was definitely a memorable time.

The funeral home had put together a beautiful slideshow of photos of my Grandpa with accompanying music which we all watched over and over . . . the tears flowed a lot then. What special memories we all have of him!

The next day was the funeral and burial which were both quite emotional. As my Grandpa had served in the Navy during World War II, they had a military funeral for him. As the funeral procession drove to the cemetery, police cars had blocked the intersections that we would go through. Each car had its lights going, and the officer stood outside and saluted as the hearse went by. It brought tears to our eyes to see the respect and honor showed to my Grandpa!



Between the gun salute, the playing of the Taps, and the folding of the flag that had covered my Grandpa's casket, it was very emotional and heart-stirring.

Ava quite emotional and getting comfort from her Great-Grandma

After the funeral and burial, there was a meal served for family and friends which was really nice and especially having all of that time with everyone. I loved being able to visit with so many of my relatives, to catch up with one another, to reminisce, and so much more.

My Grandma holding her newest great-granddaughter . . . little Tessa was born just a week before this!

Leah and I visiting with two of our cousins (who aren't pictured) and two of my Dad's cousins

Aunt Marci, Uncle Pat, and Michaela 
(my Dad's sister, brother, and one of my cousins)

Mom and Gracen

After the meal and before people began to leave, we took group photos which was fun! It's been so long since we were all together . . . .

All of us grandkids save for one

All of us with Grandma

Grandma with all of her children
Uncle Pat, Aunt Monica, Aunt Judy, Aunt Marci, Aunt Chris and my Dad

Grandma with all of her great-grandchildren who were there. This was a hard picture to get! At least most of the children are looking in somewhat the general direction of the camera!

Dad and one of his cousins, Leland

Leah and I with our Grandma

Mom, Great-Uncle Howard (my Grandpa's brother), and Uncle Jim visiting

Over the two days we were in Nebraska, I worked to win over Morgan :) (she's one of my cousins' daughters) . . . it took some doing, but once she was won over, I was treated to so many 'Morgan hugs'! Arms clasped tight around my neck and her little face next to mine . . . she's such a little sweetheart!

My dear Grandma with another of her great-granddaughters

So many special moments from these two days are filling my mind now . . . so many that I would love to share yet this is already quite long. :) So I'll share just one that was especially memorable . . . after the funeral and burial service, one of my cousin’s sweet little girls who is eight (and who I had met for the first time this week) was sitting over at a table by herself with a sad look on her face. I went over and sat next to her and started gently talking to her my arm around her. 

Part of our simple little conversation went something like this: her - “Grandpa Walt died didn’t he?”; “Yes, he did sweetheart”; “He’s in heaven now and I’ll see him again.”; “Yes, Grandpa is in heaven if he trusted in Jesus as his Savior. Do you know who Jesus is?”; She thought for a moment and said a little hesitantly “He’s the Father, isn’t He?”; “Jesus is God’s Son”; “Did Jesus love Grandpa?”; “Yes, Jesus loved Grandpa very very much. He loved Him so much that He died for him so that Grandpa could live forever in heaven if he believed in Him; Jesus loves you, too, and wants you to love Him and believe in Him, too” . . . it was a precious moment that I am so thankful for! It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

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We stayed and visited until we and some of one of my Aunt's family were the last ones left, and then we said our last goodbyes and began the trip home. What a special, sad, beautiful, hard, memorable, emotional, heartwarming few days it was!

The sky/clouds/sunlight were beautiful during our drive home

Once getting home, it was rather busy catching up on things, completing some orders and getting them mailed out, etc. so it took a bit before I had opportunity to put this post together. Now with all of this behind us, I should be back to posting regularly again!

18 comments:

  1. Hi Sarah,
    So sorry to hear of your grandpa's passing. He looked like a very happy man. Military funerals are very moving. My dad was a WWII vet too, and had a military funeral. It's nice to have such fond memories of him the last time you were with him. Time is a great healer.
    Blessings to you and your family,
    Love,
    Anne♥

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  2. Hello Sarah,

    I am so sorry to hear about your grandfather's passing. I am also very glad that you and your family had the opportunity to have a phone conversation (and share the gospel) and be able to travel and see the rest of the family. In the picture he seems like he was a man full of joy! Many hugs.

    Love, Gabby

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  3. God bless you all. It is sad to lose someone near and dear but as you have stated saying goodbye brought some good too. It was wonderful that you could catch up and spent time with others.

    As for Heaven and people with dementia I believe that God is kind and one day we shall see the depth of his kindness and love for us. Meanwhile I am glad you spent some special time with your grandfather while he was still with you. We must all make time to be with those special to us and build memories.

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  4. Sarah, I think your sentence describing the last few days says it all....sad, beautiful,memorable, emotional and yet special.
    Losing a loved family member is always a sadness, but we have to dwell on the happy memories passed down , and the stories you will all tell over and over.
    My prayers are with you in these days.

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  5. I'm sorry that your Grandpa passed away. I hope your Grandpa has chosen Jesus as his Saviour too. My condolences to you and your family.

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  6. Thank you for this beautiful post and tribute to your grandpa, Sarah. He sounds like a special, wonderful man...and how wonderful to know that he selflessly served his country in the Navy. Losing loved ones is just as you described it...a mixture of emotions! You may recall that just over a year ago, my husband lost his dad (also a war veteran) and then his mom just 3 weeks apart. So our children dealt with a double blow in the loss of both grandparents. We know by experience that time is a wonderful healer, and we are indeed thankful for the hope we have that we will see them again! Please know that we will be praying for your Dad and your whole family!

    ~ Betsy

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  7. I'm sorry to hear of the circumstances that brought your extended family together but I'm glad that it worked out for you to go and that you made it safely. I'm sure that visiting together and remembering special times helped. May God bless your whole family with peace and trust in Him as you readjust to life.

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  8. I am so sorry Sarah. This brought tears to my eyes.

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  9. What a wonderful post about your grandfather. We went through this about a week before you did, with the loss of MY Granny- Becky's great Granny. Your memories of him and the subsequent visit with the family are wonderful Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  10. Thank you so much, Mrs. Anne! He was. :) I’ll never forget his smiles and his big hugs. It is so nice to have the memories!

    They are indeed! With your Dad being a WWII vet and having a military funeral, I am sure you well understand how moving this time was.

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  11. Thank you so much, Gabby! We are so thankful for that, too . . . even amidst heartache and loss, there were many blessings that the Lord gave.

    He was . . . I can see his smile now and hear his laugh! Such special memories.

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  12. Thank you, Suze, for your kind words of sympathy! It is a comfort knowing that God is a God of not only justice, but of mercy. I am thankful for all of the opportunities He gave for us to share the gospel with my Grandpa over the years and my hope and prayer is that at some point, he placed His trust in the Lord as His Savior, even if it was but a childlike faith as the Lord sees and knows the heart.

    It was indeed a blessing to be able to catch up with family!

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  13. Thank you so much for your kind words, Elizabeth! As you shared, I am so thankful for all of the happy memories and the stories that we do have to remember and pass down. He was a special Grandpa and touched our lives in many ways!

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  14. Thank you so much, Leah! Your caring words meant a lot.

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  15. Thank you, Betsy! He was. :) I can remember when you all went through the losses of your children’s grandparents so close together. As we were going through this, your family actually came to mind as I knew you had walked a somewhat similar path recently. Thank you so much for your prayers!

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  16. Thank you, Anna, for your sweet comment! Even with the circumstances, it was a blessing being able to be all together with our extended family. I am thankful for the time we all had together! And yes, visiting together and remembering did help. Thanks so much!

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  17. Welcome to my blog, agirlwiththought, and thank you so much for your kind comment!

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  18. I am so sorry for your loss, Tammy! You are the second person that I know personally who experienced losing a loved one right around the same time we did. It is always hard losing those we love!

    You’re welcome for sharing, and thank you!

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)