Two summers ago we took our girls to visit my Grandpa Bill at his home in Tinley Park, a suburb on Chicago's South Side. He and my grandma raised their family in the same Tinely home. We timed things so we would be there with my dad during his annual visit. The girls had a ball. They chased fireflies with their grandpa outside his childhood home, explored the Northern Illinois prairie surrounding my aunt and uncle's home in Marengo, and braved a heatwave that hit the Midwest that same week. Reports put the heat at over 130 degrees coming off the downtown pavement. Even Paul had to bow out of a Cubs game after just a few innings.
Neither one of our girls had ever had the opportunity to meet my grandpa. His last visit to Portland was before Ella was born. It was fun to be able to introduce the three of them (along with my adopted grandma, Marion). Most of the time, between offers of hard candy and dinners at the Cracker Barrel, Grandpa Bill just sat and watched the girls play, eyes shining. It was a sweet, sweet visit. We pretty much knew that would be it. Grandpa was old and frail, and aside from his morning jaunts to McDonald's for coffee with the guys, he pretty much stuck close to home.
Then, just this past fall, we heard he was moving West. Before the holidays. Just like that. My dad and aunt found him an assisted living place within fifteen minutes of our house. And so, before the frost had a chance to sneak up on his Illinois sidewalk, he flew out to his new home. We were worried about him, worried that he would miss his home and his town of over sixty years. But he didn't. He was SO happy. He made friends, introduced himself to anyone who came by, announced to the entire cafeteria that his name was Bill, and that he was going to live there for a long time, he hoped.
God had other plans, though. We knew his last days would be spent here, we just didn't know how soon those days would come. Six weeks seemed too short. Just six weeks? But God knew. He knew that he wanted to give my sweet Grandpa Bill six weeks of visits from his beloved family, six weeks of hugs and kisses from his great-granddaughters, six weeks of football games on the couch right next to his son, six weeks to celebrate Emilie's birthday and to have a certain little witch and her puppy dog side kick trick-or-treat at his door.
I so much wanted those weeks to stretch to months or even years. In that short time, though, God demonstrated his kindness overflowing in ways I never would have imagined. "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works." Psalm 145:8-9