Saturday, April 6, 2013

Grandpa Clark

My heart is so heavy today.

My grandpa died yesterday.

I don't know what to write, only that I have to, that I must express what I'm feeling.

I'm sad, I'm weighted, I'm a bit frustrated because Svanja is sick on top of it all and it is very hard to handle her feverish crying along with the grief. The day is cloudy and windy and only magnifies the pain.

I saw Grandpa on Thursday, the day before he died. He smiled at me in his wheelchair at lunch and held Svanja's hand, telling her how cute she was. Thin wisps of white hair surrounded the bald top of his head. Blue veins wound their way just underneath translucent skin blemished with age spots.  I grasped his hand, wrinkled and fragile, and told him I love him.  I did not know that in only one day he would be gone.

We knew he would pass soon, so it was not altogether unexpected.  But I had expected him to die in the hospital after a stroke, and that we would have time to say good-bye to him before he died.  Instead, he slipped peacefully away in his bed at the nursing home.  He kept telling the nurses and Grandma yesterday that he did not want to go the hospital.  It was like he knew that his time was up.

It was hard to see Grandpa decline in health over the past 6 months. When Jordan and I moved back to our hometown, he could still walk and was living at home and engaged us in conversation.  My mind moves back in time, to when he played big band songs beautifully on the piano and as a little girl I always wanted to play "as good as Grandpa."  I remember him cooking; he cooked once a week for Grandma and he made delicious food that was often British or Ecuadorian in nature.  He had lots of books and Bible commentaries, and I first discovered Tolkien's world of Middle Earth at Grandma and Grandpa's house with an old copy of The Hobbit.  Grandpa loved to write, which was one of the reasons I learned to enjoy writing as well.

He was the Wheaton Spanish professor who wrote memoirs, watched British drama, drank tea, wore glasses and vests and a British-like cap, read biographies, played piano, cooked well, and loved my husband from the moment he met him, taking him out to Culver's every week during my first semester at college.  He was the grandpa that took me out to eat on grandpa/granddaughter dates, and created toys for me and my siblings and cousins out of wood, and helped me with crafts, and bounced me on his knee as he sang long-forgotten nursery rhymes to me.

But it is not all sadness, for Grandpa was a Christian and highly valued his relationship with Jesus.  He is now in heaven, whole, rejoicing in God's presence.  He has fulfilled the last line of the poem I wrote for him and Grandma on their 50th wedding anniversary: he is now dancing with Jesus celeste...

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