Remembering a Good Man

Names are not usually the most descriptive or memorable kind of label. The most flattering thing I have ever been called is “that girl.” It might seem impersonal or even insulting if you don’t know the context, but it’s actually my most treasured nickname. After my mother-in-law lost her mother, she had to travel a couple hours to take care of her dad every other week. He had the beginnings of dementia. I was off for the summer and have always had a sweet spot for grandpas.

I can remember falling head over heels for my great-grandfather when I met him for the first time. I was almost four, and my parents thought I would be afraid and shy as was my usual disposition towards strangers. They couldn’t have been more wrong. I saw him and raced to him. I didn’t get out of his lap or leave his side until forced.

I frequently traveled with my mother-in-law down for these check-up trips to visit her dad, who we kids called Granddaddy. One day, she called to remind him we were on our way, and he asked loudly through the phone, “Are you bringing that girl with you?” My mother-in-law replied, “That girl? You mean Sheena?” “Yeah, that girl.” He couldn’t remember my name. There was no place for it in his failing mind. But he knew me. I became special to him even in his old age, and he thought to ask for me in particular.

I recall the first time I met Granddaddy. I saw a flashback of an enormous young sailor. I saw him towering on a dock. I saw a gentle giant. Then I blinked and saw the old salt in front of me, the weathered man who had been through many storms. I smiled, and I loved him. I sang a duet at his wife’s funeral. When we practiced it for him, as he sat on a bed, he leaned his head back, closed his eyes, and traveled to heaven. You could see in his mind his precious Aldean, his beloved wife for whom he tenderly cared for many long years as she lost her mind and body to Alzheimer’s disease. In his mind, you could see her renewed and unbroken at last, standing in paradise. You could see his never-ending love for her. The true love you dream of. They had it.

Yesterday, Granddaddy passed away. It is a great blessing. He is home. He is again with Aldean. They have long been waiting for this day. I am sad though. For a time, he touched my life. He is in my heart forever, and I know that, for a time, I was in his too.

There is coming a day,
When no heart aches shall come,
No more clouds in the sky,
No more tears to dim the eye,
All is peace forever more,
On that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

There’ll be no sorrow there,
No more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain,
No more parting over there;
And forever I will be,
With the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be

song written by James Hill

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