My grandpa Eldon Barnes passed away a few days ago. It wasn’t a surprise – he’d been going downhill for a while and
lived 86 full years. Still when we got the call that he had collapsed and died immediately, I was overcome with grief. Grandpa was a big part of my life growing up and knowing I would not have the chance to visit with him again this side of heaven is a sad, sad thought.
I also was filled with relief and joy. Grandpa seemed to be struggling more and more each time we’d visit him. No matter how bad he felt he always wanted to know what we were up to, where we’d been traveling, what new thing little Grace was doing these days. He always ended up each visit with a feeble kiss and a heart-felt “I love you.” With Grandpa Eldon I felt special.
I think it’s impossible to know just how influential someone is in your life until they’re no longer part of it. In the last week I’ve been struck by the life lessons Grandpa imparted to me simply through his actions. His presence at every school play, choir concert, graduation, birthday and every other major holiday and event demonstrated how valuable I was to him. His generosity at times when all seemed lost saw me through some otherwise impossible situations, including a private college I never could have afforded without him. His inquisitive nature always wanted to know more about me and what I was interested in. He made me feel like I could do anything. His faithfulness to my Grandma Clara showed me how fun and rewarding marriage can be even after 59 years.
I miss my Grandpa incredibly already. It’s hard to imagine visits to my Grandma will now be without him. And yet he’s free. He became a follower of Christ just a week after his marriage and he lived a life grounded in his faith. He’s no longer struggling and I’m so glad for that. I honor his life, a life well-lived, one I would do well to emulate.