Thursday, April 30, 2015

Eulogy for Papa

My grandfather was a brilliant, powerful man with a great sense of humour.

There was one thing I could always be sure of when I worked hard or accomplished something – Papa would be proud of me. Whether it was the completion of a Masters degree, an award of achievement in highschool, or a well done grade-school project, Papa was proud of me. He taught me the importance of hard work and being proud of each others' accomplishments. 

Papa worked hard and accomplished much, and he used these accomplishments to bless others. 

Matthew 25:34-40 (NKJV) says:
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then PAPA will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did I see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did I see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did I see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to PAPA, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

I was so very privileged to be able to be with Papa at the end of his journey. As I spent time with him overnight from Saturday into Sunday I spoke to him and thanked him for giving me a lifetime of being a wonderful grandfather, for demonstrating that a continent apart was not too far away to visit your grandchildren. Most importantly, for blessing me and my children with a rich inheritance of faith.

At 2:02 on Sunday morning I was holding Papa’s warm hand when he tightened it around mine. He opened his eyes and looked up and he was finally free of all suffering. The song playing on the CD was "Give Thanks,” which includes the words “and now, let the weak say I am strong!" I am so thankful that Papa can finally say this again.

Most will be familiar with the “love passage” in 1st Corinthians 13, which describes many attributes of love. It ends with “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (NKJV) Through these past five years especially, I have witnessed the steadfastness of love between Nanny and Papa. Nanny continued to “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.” Thank you Nanny for showing us how to live this verse.

Before I would leave Papa after a visit I would leave him with the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 and that is what I want to bless you with today:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’

Monday, April 27, 2015

Papa's Last Day

*** WARNING: Some readers may find this entry difficult as it deals with death. ***

April 25, 2015

9:30 pm

Dear Papa,

We're having a sleepover tonight. I'm all set up on the chair bed beside you, with my sleeping bag and pillow.

I sang along with the CD for a bit and read to you a little. I watched as the PSW washed your face, wet your mouth, applied cream to your limbs, and vaseline to your lips. I listened as the nurse suctioned phlegm from your mouth, trying to give you a bit more time between choking fits.

I said bedtime prayers with you...

"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should for before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take."

11:11 p.m.

I was asking God to take you home Papa, wondering why He just didn't. It took something the PSW said to remind me of our gift of free will. "He [Papa] decides when to go."

April 26, 2015

12:27 a.m.

Your breathing seems to be slowing and becoming more shallow.

I'm here Papa. But I don't want you to stay for me. You've given me a lifetime of being a wonderful grandfather. You taught me the importance of hard work and being proud of each others' accomplishments. The value of giving to enrich the lives of others, and the importance of investing for the future. That music is part of a well rounded education. That a continent apart is not too far away to visit your grandchildren.

12:34 a.m. 

Your breathing is like sips of air through a straw with holes in it.

In the research I did about palliative care and end of life, I don't remember reading about smell. Someone should've written about smell. Your body is breaking down and giving off a distinct odour. It's hard to describe. I was thinking about how God formed the first man from dust and how we recite "dust to dust" at funerals. Is it an earthy smell then? The smell of decay?

1:18 a.m. 

I'm torn Papa. I wonder if I should be talking to you, offering you comfort somehow. But what can I say? And will my voice keep you anchored to this world? Better to err on the side of comfort. I'll read to you from Steve Fry's "I Am: The Unveiling of God."

I held your hand, soft and so very hot. I reminded you that generations of your family follow God because of you. That when you get to heaven you'll see your parents, your sister, your son-in-law Silas, the grandson you never met because he was born in Brazil and died after a day. Your body will be free of pain, your mind whole again. But it's your choice Papa, you have to tell Jesus you're ready to go.

2:02 a.m. 

I was holding your hand and you tightened it. You let out a huge gurgle and stopped breathing. You opened your eyes and looked up to the left corner of the room. I know that's when your spirit left you. The song playing on the CD was "Give Thanks." And now, let the weak say "I am strong!" 

My Papa is free from pain. Thank You Jesus.


After Papa's spirit left, his strong heart took another 10 minutes or so to finish its work. The lungs pushed out air about six more times and it was more than a little unnerving, especially when accompanied by sound. At some point Papa's whole body twitched, which I knew was to be expected.

I touched his hand again, since I had stepped away from the bed when his body was having its final moments. It was still soft and warm. I placed my hand on his chest, over his heart and lungs. Everything still. Peaceful. Thank You God.

I sat with my grandfather's shell for about an hour. Watched his colour go from rosy to waxen. Touched his cooling hands one last time, and left.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Letters to Papa: April 24

Dear Papa,

I read to you from Ann Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift" today. You sleep soundly, snoring away, but I have read that you can still hear.

The chapter I read said:
"Now all is calm. God comes... God comes quiet... This night a battle has been waged and won you. Love had to come back for you. Love had to get you. This night, you on this visited planet, your rescue is here. You can breathe."

Ironic since every couple of minutes or so fluids build up in the back of your throat and you gasp, try to cough, choke. But soon Papa. Soon you will be with Jesus and there will be no more struggle.
"Let the warm breath of heaven fall on you."
You cough again. I'm here with you Papa. I'm here.
"And the bulk of all your worn shreds slip off the weariness of your back. You have tried to polish enough for Him with these rags. You have tried to patch together so much for Him. You have tried to produce too much for Him with these rags."
Yes Papa. You are a good and faithful servant. You have done much for God. Now it's time for all the weariness to slip off.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Letters to Papa: April

Dear Papa,

You must have wondered if it was your birthday yesterday! Four of your daughters and two of your granddaughters all visited in the same day!

We got news from your doctor that you were refusing food and not doing well. My older sister, a trained PSW, spent hours with you - she washed the gunk from your eyes so you could open them and see, and put vaseline around your dry lip. She cleaned your mouth and painstakingly spooned thickened water teaspoon by teaspoon into it.

By the time I arrived that evening your eyes needed another wash, your lips more vaseline, and you kept mouthing "water." I was thankful for the opportunity to minister to you. To show love to precious grandfather, to my Papa.

My two youngest kids are memorizing Psalm 100 so I read it to you:

Psalm 100
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

The photo is of you with my daughter, now 5, after you first went into the care facility. You are now unable to do anything without assistance. We have been told you may only have a couple more weeks left on this earth. 

We wish you godspeed. You have suffered too much in the past five years especially.

With love,


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Date Night: February

Our February date night theme was "Hawaiian Night," loosely using the ideas presented by Love Actually. Very loosely actually. I skipped all the crafty boarding passes etc. and we had BBQ chicken wings for dinner (still a BBQ, right?).

After dinner we used the words from the Love Actually blog to come up with poems. Mine was very pathetic but J came up with quite a nice poem.

Poem writing was followed by a coconut oil massage to the soundtrack of Hawaiian music and a synchronized light show.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Date Night: January

J and I have been married for almost 13 1/2 years now. We have often heard how important it is to keep dating your spouse, and this year I put together a plan that would make it a bit easier!

Not only did I include a monthly date as part of my 101 in 1001 goals, I also prepared 12 envelopes with date descriptions and the cash to make them happen. This eliminates the "what should we do?" dilemma, as well as the "we can't afford it" problem. 

I researched and pinned from several sites to gather ideas. 

The January date was a "back to school" theme (and unfortunately I can't find the source I used for this idea).

We read each other a story - an excerpt from books since we both picked longer books.

We created a painting together, which we later hung on the "art gallery" wall in our playroom.

The date concluded with, *ahem* "Show and Tell."

What about you? What are some of your favourite date ideas?