I haven’t posted anything to my blog in well over a month now. I haven’t forgotten about it, but have had so much stuff going on that I decided it would be best to set it aside. I planned to give a life update and talk about some of my plans for 2012 in the next day or two, but instead I want to talk about one of the most influential men in my life.

My grandpa, Harold Lawrence Ford, passed away yesterday morning. He was 89 years old and the family patriarch. It’s terribly sad for us, but as my brother reminded me, it’s the happiest day in all eternity for both him and my grandma. It’s the first day that they get to spend with both each other and Jesus. He is the most godly man I know, and am blessed that he got to be the father and shepherd of an entire family that loves Jesus.

A few years ago I got the opportunity to sit down and listen to him talk about his life. Until that time, I knew almost nothing about what he had done before I was born. He worked hard his entire life, and took care of his family until the end. In his early life, my grandpa moved jobs very frequently — when he entered the job market it was near the end of the Depression. He did all sorts of manual labor jobs, ending at Caterpillar, a company that makes farm equipment. Along with his normal job, he also became a pastor.

When he retired, he didn’t stop working. He maintained his house, took care of my grandmother until she passed away, maintained the church property he owned, had a garden, watched his grandchildren grow up and even got to watch as his great grandchildren are growing up. When the pastor was no longer able to take care of himself or his wife, my grandpa took up the job and continued to take care of the pastor’s wife after the pastor passed away and even up until a few days ago my grandpa made helped her.

One summer as a young kid — I believe it was the summer before I started 6th grade — my grandpa took me on a road trip with just him and his motor home. I didn’t want to do the summer program stuff and my grandma had died less than a year earlier, so we provided company for each other. It really was a blast. He took me to meet my grandma’s brother and his wife in Oklahoma. I met my dad’s cousins and my second cousins in Texas. We spent a few days with my uncle in Louisiana. The uncle was by marriage to my aunt (grandpa’s daughter) who passed away a few years prior from breast cancer. Grandpa and I made friends with the crazy kooks at campgrounds and went to a dozen different waffle houses around tornado valley. His pop of choice was Mountain Dew and we drank a ton of it. It was one of the most special times of my life, and a reminder that I was special to him; he had 7 grandchildren but only took me. That is a summer that I will remember for the rest of my life.

My grandpa survived multiple heart attacks and we were sure we were going to lose him last year, but by God’s grace we were given another year to spend him. I planned to come home Christmas day this year, but wound up making it home for a few hours on Christmas Eve instead — I’m so thankful that I did. My grandpa had some sort of bug that was very obviously hurting him a lot. My brother brought him over, because standing made him dizzy so he knew he couldn’t drive himself. We thought he should be in the hospital because of other symptoms, but he was insisted he HAD to spend Christmas Eve with his family. When I saw him, I knew Jesus was going to call him home soon, and I think he knew too — which is why he had to see us all — but I expected another few months with him.

Christmas Day, again, the family felt he needed to go to the hospital, but my grandpa absolutely insisted that he needed to go church and be with his family. On the 26th he fell in his bedroom and cut his head open. He was soon moved to the ICU. I knew then that I wouldn’t hear good news. After I got off work yesterday and barely fell asleep I got a phone call my Dad. He was having a hard time talking and I could tell he was crying. The only other two time I can remember seeing my Dad cry was after my grandma died and after my aunt died. I couldn’t understand everything he was saying, but I did know that he said I had to go to the hospital right away; so I knew the news bad.

You can ask any of my roommates, I hate breaking the law, even speed limits; but I definitely caught myself going over 90mph multiple times because I hoped that I could get there in time.  I found out that my brother was at his bedside in minutes, but even he didn’t make it before Grandpa passed. Even though we all wanted to be there for him, I’m sure my grandpa didn’t want us through the pain of watching it. But, I’m thankful that a ICU nurse and a pastor got to be at his side in the final seconds.

I’m thankful for having a blog, because I’m really not the kind of person who can talk about these kind of stories, but so many of the people I care about read my posts so I can still share them. I’m mourning the loss of a great man, a role model, and a hero. But I’m honored and overwhelmingly happy that Grandpa is finally free from sin and death. God has done great things for his kingdom through my Grandpa. I’m excited that one day I will get to join him and the angels in celebration.