Eleven years ago when the Lord blessed my husband and me with our first child, we decided to give our children names that connect them to their family heritage. Our first son is named after my husband, our first two daughters after our mothers, our second son after my dad, and our third daughter after my grandmother (I’m also named for my two grandmothers). As soon as we learned we were expecting a third son, we were so excited to be able to name him after my husband’s dad. And I began planning a generations portrait with our whole family in which our four parents and my grandmother would be pictured with their namesakes. I thought it would be a legacy for our children- to remind them of where they come from and help them to stay grounded in the faith of their fathers. Less than 48 hours after giving birth to our Charles Calvin, my father-in-law Charlie died. He never got to meet his namesake. There will be no picture. My husband has been thinking his dad wasn't long for this world, but he'd bounced back so many times before. We will forever regret not taking the kids over to visit with their Grandpa last night. If only we'd known it was our last chance, we could have said goodbye. Things did not turn out as we had planned.
My husband’s family is from
and holds a family reunion every five years. My husband felt this summer would be his dad’s last family reunion so we all made the long trip from Indiana expecting him to enjoy being surrounded by loved ones and extended family one last time. He ended up spending his week in Texas in the hospital instead of being able to attend his family reunion. Indiana
I don't know why Charlie had to spend his long-awaited family reunion in the hospital. I don’t know why the Lord took Charlie home today, before he got to meet his namesake. I don't know why my husband wasn't given the opportunity to say goodbye. But I know God is good and that His plans are perfect.
"A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9
"A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?" Proverbs 20:24
Maybe He wants us to look forward more than we look back. Maybe He wants us to focus on the eternal reunion that will take place in heaven rather than the fleeting one this past summer. Maybe it’s because a picture is, well just a picture and a legacy is so much more than that. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Maybe sometimes it’s better to speak those thousand words. I only knew my father-in-law 12 years, but I thought I'd share a few of my memories of him.
I'll remember Charlie faithfully passing the registration booklets at church and picking them up again so he could keep track of any visitors and whether any members were missing. I'll remember how much Charlie loved church suppers. I'll remember how he treated that silly dog of his like a spoiled child, even letting her eat off his plate. I'll remember how much Charlie loved being in church and the fellowship of believers. I'll remember how Grandpa loved being surrounded by family and how it made him smile to see the grandkids causing mischief. And I'll never forget how he would ride his John Deere mower through the neighborhood so he could mow our lawn for us all summer. (Anytime Queen hears a mower, she runs to the front door thinking it's her Bapa.)
One Charlie has arrived and another one has gone. We have grief in the midst of joy, or maybe it's joy in the midst of grief. We celebrate with Charlie that he is no longer suffering the effects of his COPD and that he was able to die at home and not in a hospital or nursing home. We rejoice that Charlie is with the Lord in Paradise and that he has been reunited with his mother and son as well as many other loved ones in Christ. But we grieve his loss. Prayers for the family are appreciated.