Love in Grief

She sat her designer jeans right down on the dirty tiled floor. Our knees nearly touching as she matched my folded leg position.  Her hand gently rubbed my no-name denim as she said softly, “Tell me about him. I want to know everything.” And she leaned in to hear my reply.

I met her gaze through blurred eyes. Striving to see how she managed to turn this run-down restroom into a private sanctuary. Her eyes told me she meant it. She wanted to hear why I loved my great-grandpa so. Why it hurt so much to say good-bye.

He smelled of raw onions and juicy fruit gum. Even while in his favorite rocker, his hard-working hands always stayed busy. He would twiddle them in time to the rocker. Smooth, steady. Mesmerizing.

I’m sure my incessant singing came from him. For he always had a tune to share. A lesson to reveal through song.

The Saturday mornings he would come over on his four-wheeler were always my favorite. He would bring freshly baked, sticky cinnamon rolls and love on my dog while we ate. Then, wheeler rides for everyone! I had no idea what a blessing it was to have them live on the same street as me. Two sets of grandparents on the same street…

I learned how to share him at church when the line to greet him each Sunday grew longer. For he always had Tootsie rolls for every child. He’d manage to sneak me more than one, plus a stick of gum and I would know. I made his world spin round.

He lost his sight in later years, but could still see right through me. He was more than a great-grandpa. He was a part of me. I loved him dearly. And he knew how to love me.

To say that out loud somehow made my heart feel whole again. The memories of love filled the emptiness and caused the sparkle in my eye to return. And I was finally able to pick myself up off that floor.

I was barely a teenager when I learned this powerful lesson. That God could fill the hole left behind if you exude the love experienced with the one you miss dear. Acknowledging their significance brings glory to their Creator and He will make sure you know that. The love He receives through it will be lavished right back onto you.

It’s healing’s greatest ointment. The salve that protects the wound left behind.

And when you feel blessed to simply have experienced that love at all. When you come to the point of praise, of thanking God for bringing that one into your life, you will witness the pain of grief transforming into joy.

God couldn’t agree more the one you miss is worth the pain of grief. To Him, they were worth the price. . .

How about you? I would be honored if you would tell me about someone you have loved and lost.

Have you found the joy of grieving? I’d love to hear. 

NOTE: This is a part of my Grieving series started on my stillborn son’s birthday. You may catch up on any posts missed by clicking HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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12 thoughts on “Love in Grief

  1. Oh, Nikki, thank you so much for sharing your great-grandpa with us! What a wonderful, kind and fun soul he sounded like! It is so importanl that you have shared these memories and published them. Memories, unfortunately, begin to fade with time, so now you have these precious ones forever immortalized here on your blog for your family and friends to have to remember and reflect upon. :-)

    Reading of your great-grandfather reminded me of one of my grandfathers. I have such fond memories of both, but I will share about my paternal grandfather. I was always his little “chickadee.” I would run and jump on his lap if he was on his favorite chair and he would, like your great-grandpa, always share some of his favorite candy with me that my grandmother always had filled in the candy dish. :-) He owned a printing shop and I still remember the smells of the ink and the sounds of the presses running. I loved going to visit him there when I was little (before he retired) and I always came home with a little notepad or something with my name printed on it. :-) He even volunteered to print an edition of my middle school newspaper free for us. That was no small task, as each and every letter had to be set by hand. I’ll never forget that kindness. After he retired, he and my grandmother sold their house in the city that was only a few blocks from ours and moved permanently to their house down at the Jersey shore. I didn’t see them as often and I missed them. Even more so, when many years later, right before I got pregnant with our first, when they moved to Arizona. God bless them in their 80s/90s moving across the country. Their oldest daughter, my aunt, had a lung illness and was told that she would be better there. They moved there so she and my uncle wouldn’t be alone. My Pop loved gardening and had a huge one there in Arizona. I remember when he turned 90 and we all went out there, he patiently showed my two boys, who were still in diapers, each and every plant and let them play with his watering cans. :-) He was even featured on Burpee’s website! Toward the end of his life, he develped Alzheimers and one of the last times I spoke to him on the phone, he didn’t know who I was. That didn’t matter. I knew who he was and loved him. Thank you so much, Nikki, for giving me this chance to share and remember. The tears I am crying are happy ones. Bless you, friend! :-)

    • Thank you so much for blessing me with that memory, Lisa! (I kinda want to call you little chickadee!) :)
      What a lovely man. He seems selfless in every way. So thrilled to know you had a great-grandfather like that, too! And wow–traveling to AZ with two kids in diapers! Did you fly? How fun! Glad you got to go. Alzheimers is such a painful disease for everyone involved, isn’t it. Glad you have the ability to love him beyond it.
      So glad you were able to shed some tears of joy today, friend! To God be the glory…
      All for Him with hugs to you,
      Nikki

      • Yes, we did fly. My sons who are now almost 13 and 14 were the guys in diapers then. Luckilly, we brought a lot of entertainment and they napped. :-) My grandfather has been gone 5 years now. Seems like yesterday. He used to love to play a good game of cards (I remember all of the card games they taught me to play, too, lol!). Maybe he and your great-grandpa are enjoying some candy and a good game of cards up in Heaven together! God bless you, friend!

  2. Oh, Nikki, you shared such a loving tribute of your grandpa with all the details’ I can see why you would miss him so much…yes, being able to share why we miss someone is key to healing…I can imagine how much joy you brought into His life…thank you for honoring him and us by sharing his story…love and hugs, dear friend :)

    • Even after nearly 20 years, I still have to do it from time to time…talk about him. :) Thanks for reading my ramblings, friend! What an encourager you are…it has to be one of your gifts!

  3. I can picture him through your words. Very well written. He sounds like an amazing grandpa and what a privilege to just live down the street from your grandparents!

    I grieve the deaths of 2 beautiful women.
    One is my grandmother. If you didn’t have a Bible she would hook you up. She was ever forgiving, loving, and kind. She never fussed much about keeping up with the Joneses, because she was to busy giving.
    Another is my mentor, who went to heaven last summer. God used her to enrich my spiritual life, my marriage, and my mothering. She was always real and honest, which is the best trait in a friend.

    I am blessed beyond measure that this isn’t the end of these relationships, but they will continue on in eternity.

    Thinking of you as you grieve the loss of your son, rejoicing that you will see him again.

  4. ….just a minute, I need to grab a tissue……

    Your writing here is exquisite but even more importantly, you painted a beautiful portrait of your great-grandfather. How wonderful that you have those most cherished memories. Thank you for sharing him and also sharing a little of you, your sorrows and your joys.

    • Loved that you stopped by today, Laurie — thank you for reading my heart! I hope you have someone like my great-grandpa in your thoughts, too… Regardless, may you feel His loving arms today, friend! hugs to you!

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