When my great-grandfather and great-grandmother passed away, the adults in our family sifted through the house to take items by which to remember them. You may be familiar with this awkward ritual. Many looked for valuable items – things of monetary value. Some, like my mother, looked for knick-knacks that sparked fond memories of her beloved grandparents. I went through their house with my mom, and since I was the oldest great-grandchild in this branch of the family (I was 14), I was able to look around at what was left of their belongings. What token of remembrance did I choose? It was my great-grandfather’s tall stool that he sat on in the kitchen. Above is a photo of this stool that I keep in my kitchen to this day.
Five generations of our family have now sat in this stool, as it was often used for small kids to sit and eat at their table. Believe it or not – the subject of this stool came up in my family online chat this last Christmas. My mom’s cousin asked if anyone in the family still had the stool, because she remembered my great-grandfather sitting in it, and the fact that all the grandkids sat in it when they outgrew a highchair! When I sent this exact photo, she cried tears of joy and said she was happy our family still has it and uses it. I am still shocked that nobody else claimed the stool before me!
You see, my great-grandparents that I’m speaking of were truly great. I remember sitting in their kitchen when we would stop by for random visits. My mom was particularly close to her grandparents. She admired them as much as anyone else in this world and knew that she was always welcome to come over unannounced. There was always plenty to eat – the snacks were wonderful! My great-grandmother was a great cook! My great-grandfather would sit in the corner of the kitchen on his stool with a toothpick in his mouth and observe with delight. That was his spot. That is where he listened, shared stories, and laughed.
Shortly before health problems took my great-grandfather out of his home into assisted living, he and I started to bond. He took me fishing on one outing. On another occasion, he took me to the fairgrounds to see the circus animals in the tents that they were setting up for the circus. I looked forward to spending more time with him. Although that did not happen as often as I had hoped, I am grateful for those times we shared.
My great-grandfather did not enjoy his time in assisted living. He wanted to be home with his wife, and I think he felt rather dejected to be in that situation. However, during his time there he made the decision to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. He was a believer and an honorable man, but he had not been baptized as a child. I attended the small baptism ceremony, and it left a huge impact on me. How much humility would it take to do that at his age? What an example! He passed a short time thereafter, but we all knew where his spirit went.
My great-grandmother lived for about six more months after my great-grandfather passed, as she too was very ill. My grandmother went over to visit my great-grandfather almost daily. She would check in with the hospice nurse, helping with her mom as best she could. My mom told me that on at least one occasion my great-grandmother said that she had seen her husband in dreams, telling her it was nearly time to ‘come home’ and to not be afraid. Of course, we all believe it was more than a dream. The concept of Heaven as our true home has strong scriptural support. One example that is very direct is found in Hebrews 13:14-15: “14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. 15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.”
Another incredible thing occurred in the months after their passing. My uncle (my mom’s brother) had a vivid dream where he was sitting with them in their kitchen having a conversation with them, just as we all would do when they were with us on earth. As it was not my firsthand experience, I’m sure there are more details I don’t know. But what stuck out to my mom, and myself, after she shared this with me, was an interesting perspective they shared with my uncle in the dream. They told him that they were very proud of their family; both the current generations and the generations that were yet to come. How incredible their vantage point from Heaven must be! From my reading, scripture is not crystal clear on what we will know when we are in Heaven, but I like to think that our family’s work and character will continue to please God, and perhaps they were given some details of God’s great plan. Who knows, maybe my writing today is part of God’s work that has made them proud?
By now you probably do not need me to explain how wonderful of people they were. They were servants of God through their actions. They lived their lives with an abundance of love. I can scarcely think of a more kindhearted couple than they were. Interestingly, they were next door neighbors and good friends of my wife’s grandparents. It is funny to think that my great-grandparents knew my wife long before I met her, and they knew her as their friend’s beautiful young granddaughter who they would give popcorn balls to on Halloween, among other occasions I’m sure. I’ll bet they are smiling ear-to-ear seeing our family grow!
I’m sure you’re wondering what was found in the house? The house itself was modest, built by my great-grandfather’s hands. He was most proud of his garden, which was the biggest home garden I’ve seen to this day. He loved to give away home grown vegetables. Inside the house, to very little surprise, it was said that somewhere around forty-thousand dollars in cash was found hidden in random places. They had very nice things too. Those seeking valuables found what they were looking for – no question. But the legacy that they left was not money or valuables. It was love and a healthy fear of God. As noted in Proverbs 13:22, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.” It is plain to me that the inheritance has very little to do with monetary wealth in this context, and I think my great-grandparents in Heaven would agree.