He had been sick for a long time. His kidneys started giving out on him three years before he passed. He lived three years on failing kidneys with no dialysis. THREE YEARS - a medical marvel. He chose not to have surgery or dialysis because he reasoned that when it's time, God calls you home. No sense in dragging out life here to enter into life in His presence.
...and then 6 months passed to a year; a year became 2; and 2 came close to 3. It was really hard for me to understand why God was dragging out this process. It was hard to watch one of the strongest, liveliest, best story-teller ever struggle and suffer. I wondered sometimes if Grandpa was resisting - but I don't think so.
He was strong; and stubborn...but, I don't think that was it. As Grandpa's time grew closer, I started to realize that maybe God had let him stay longer - for us. A lesson for us to learn in his submission to the will of God until the end? An opportunity for us to realize that while he might be leaving big shoes to fill - he was leaving behind 5 capable children and 13 capable grandchildren to carry-on those lessons and values? Yes.
When my grandpa did pass away, I was able to be there. I had never been with anyone when they died. It was so sudden. He was here - and then in a flash - gone. There were many of us gathered around his bedside - my grandmother, my mom, my aunts, my uncle, and a few cousins. We gathered together, almost instinctively, held hands, prayed, my mom read the 23rd Psalm, we sang 'Amazing Grace,' and we wept.
Yes, a good man was called up to the Good Shepherd that day. What we found in his absence, though, was great strength in His presence. Praise God for many wonderful years with Gradpa Joe, and even more so for a wonderful legacy: his family. I couldn't choose better people to be related to.
|My cousin Valerie, Grandpa Joe, and little Jessica ~ 1982?|
To read Grandpa Joe's tribute, that I read at his wake on July 2, 2010, go here.