Monday, October 18, 2010

Ties That Bind

I've never seen my Uncle Dale cry (pr show tons of emotion at all, really). I've never seen my cousin Justin cry. I've never seen my Nana kiss my PawPaw (or vice versa). I've never seen someone die. But then again, I've never lived October 17, 2010 before either.

I saw PawPaw on Tuesday afternoon. My parents went together on Wednesday with my brother. Thursday, they brought dinner to PawPaw, who ate a heaping plateful of mashed potatoes! Friday, my dad went to see him and said that it was a completely different PawPaw. His liver was failing and he was confused from the toxins building up in his body. Sunday after church, I was planning on going over there to share with him one last time. I was just changing my clothes when Mom called and told me that I needed to get over there.

When I got there, everyone was standing out in the driveway. We talked a bit and then I went inside to say hey to PawPaw. He had slipped into somewhat of a coma and wasn't awake when I spoke to him. I went back into the kitchen with my Nana and we just talked about my babies. Much later, the hospice nurse came into the kitchen and told my Nana that she thought PawPaw would only be with us for a few more minutes. I went outside to get everyone else and we surrounded his bed. It was very peaceful. It was very hard. I saw the most stoic men I know completely lose it. I saw my mom hold my Nana and be a pillar of strength. I saw compassion and tenderness as the hospice waited until all the good-byes were said before announcing PawPaw was gone.

About 30 minutes after everything happened, Nana's house turned into a bustle of activity. Dale and Justin were searching for PawPaw's marine dress blues. Dad was pulling pictures out of the attic. Mom was calling a contact list that Nana and PawPaw had compiled. I was looking through scrapbooks with Nana while she picked out pictures she liked for the funeral home. All this while Skyler, Justin's month old daughter, slept in her car seat right in the middle of the kitchen floor. We pulled together the way a family should.

I wasn't sure if everyone would be okay after what I had just witnessed but they will be. On the wall in my grandparents foyer are two crossstiches that my Nana made years ago. She made one for each member of our family. It has our name, the meaning, and a verse to go with each person. I don't remember what the verses were but I do remember the meanings. PawPaw's name, Clifford, means "Enduring Strength". Nana's name, Jerry, means "Strong in Spirit". I saw strength yesterday.

Even though I may not have gotten my clear "yes" or "no" from PawPaw regarding his salvation, I do know that God never fails us. I gave him Truth and that's all I could do. The Lord is Sovereign and He knows all. He knew when it was the perfect time to take PawPaw. He allowed my Nana to be surrounded by family during one of the hardest times in her life. There's such mercy in that. She didn't have to be alone. Dale didn't have to be the one to find him. There was comfort and support. Isn't God good? I have to trust God with PawPaw. He knows his heart and it's a matter that I can not discern one way or the other. I do know that God is good no matter our circumstances. And that's enough for me today.

"For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:5

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