The kids and I already had a winter trip planned for Arkansas and were leaving Rochester that Wednesday afternoon. It was such a blessing to be there with the family - my aunts, uncles, cousins and most of all my mother and grandmother. When I got the news of Grandpa's death, the thing I wanted most was to be able to put my arms around my mom and my grandma. I have heartache that I won't see Grandpa again, that his life here is over, and that my children will never really know him. But I think my greater heartache is for my grandma and my mom as I think about the difficulty of saying goodbye to a husband and to a dad.
I have been thinking of the last time that I was with Grandpa. It was this past September and the kids and I drove to Searcy with my mom to visit him in the nursing home. It was a short visit and I can hardly remember what was said. We talked briefly. I held his hand for a moment when I hugged him and said it was good to see him. I can't remember if I told him I loved him.
Liam wanted to look at Grandpa's body in the casket and he asked if he could touch him. He reached out and touched Grandpa's hand and I thought of that last time I was with him, touching his hand. In the casket, his face didn't look the same but his hands were like I've always remembered them. I think I will always remember his hands.
If I had known that day in September that I wouldn't see Grandpa again this is what I think I would have said:
Grandpa, I have always been proud to say that I am part of the Lewis family. Many times I have said, "My grandpa is Claude Lewis." And I will keep saying it! I just want you to know that I attribute a large part of the foundation of my faith to you and the leader you are for this family. Thank you for your faithfulness - to the Lord and to Grandma. The covenant that you have kept with Grandma has been passed on to your children and now to me. And that picture of marriage is such a precious gift. As a little girl, I always thought you were rich. And I still think you are rich. I have a picture of you in my mind praying at the head of the table, "Father, we thank thee..." with your family around you and one of Grandma's meals on the table. You have had life's richest blessings and I know the promise of even greater riches in heaven. I love you so much.
One of Grandpa's favorite hymns was "My God and I". The grandchildren sang it at the the close of the funeral:
Many emotions as I have written this post...