Services were held today for a man I didn’t know very well. He occasionally visited my family when I was growing up, and when I saw him I don’t remember ever embracing or even speaking much. Although I didn’t know him very well, his daughter is my best friend and my mother. Yes, the man I speak of is my grandfather.
I had three grandparents when I entered this world. My Dad’s dad passed away when my Dad was just entering adulthood. Therefore, I had my Dad’s mom, and my Mom’s parents, who were divorced. My Grandpa had been remarried for many years by the time I came along, and he and his wife lived somewhat of a distance away.
The name “Grandpa” never held the endearment to me that it does for most people. I never remember my Grandpa expressing a sense of pride, or even a fondness of me for that matter. It wasn’t until my Dad became a grandpa that I began to revere the term with warm emotion.
This all might seem a bit disheartening, and I guess it is, but thank the Lord there’s more. You see, my Grandpa’s life didn’t reflect the traditional pattern you’d probably expect. Because of the road he traveled, he missed out on many memories with his grandchildren. But he wasn’t a foolish man; he could recognize a second chance when it was presented to him.
It was after my children were born that I began to get acquainted with this grandpa of mine. He had meals with us in our home, he pitched in and became part of our home projects, he snuck treats to my children before dinner, and he laughed with us. I learned that he loved strawberry spring salad, that he liked to watch any sport on TV, even golf (yes, golf), and that the Styrofoam cup he carried in the evening had a hefty dose of Mr. Daniels. After some time, “Papa Cecil” began to mean quite a lot to us. My fourth child especially had a unique connection with his great grandfather, and saying goodbye at three and a half is not only puzzling but heartbreaking too.
Life is so unpredictable. Change is perpetual. And praise God, that His love is unconditional. My nine year old son opened the memorial service in prayer today with a prayer he wrote. He said, “Lord Jesus, thank You for all the time we have got to have and spend with Papa Cecil.” The time didn’t go the way of a storybook. But it didn’t have to. Although I didn’t know my Grandpa as I would have liked, I got to see my children form a special bond with him, which created that endearing place in my heart. In the end all that mattered was we got to have what we needed, and that was time; time to share life and make memories.
Expectations can be tricky. It’s good to have expectations for our own personal growth and for our children’s growth and development. However, my expectation of a “Grandpa” could have prevented my entire family from experiencing the gift of our “Papa Cecil.” Nothing is ideal in life. My Aunt Donna frequently says, “It is what it is.” And sometimes we just have to make the most of what “it is.”
The Word tells us in Ephesians 5:16 to make the most of every opportunity. The Message translation says; “make the most of every chance you get.” Sometimes we have to set our expectations aside and make the most of what we have while we have it.
Bless you and yours as you make the most of your days together.
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