Earlier this year, Mr. Handsome’s 82-year-old grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis was sudden, and he had only missed a few of his regular tennis matches when he received the news. In a matter of weeks, he was told that the cancer had spread, and while he did some chemo treatments, it wasn’t long before it became clear that the cancer wasn’t going away.
While his health started to decline, Grandpa’s positive attitude remained, as did the enjoyment he got out of spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The last time we saw him was in September, when the family got together for Grandma’s birthday party. Grandpa spent most of the day on the couch, but he refused to make the celebration about him, even though we all knew that it would likely be his last extended family gathering. Even though he wasn’t feeling well, you could tell how much joy it brought him to see us honor his wife.
A few weeks later, my mother-in-law sent out a group text to let us know that Grandpa had had a difficult day and was feeling very nauseous. To cheer him up, some of the family went over to his house to sing with him and crack some jokes. At 9pm, while Mr. Handsome and I (and Little Buddy) were driving home from dinner with friends, I got the feeling that we should give Grandpa a call.
No one had given any indication that they thought the end was near, but I still thought we should talk to him, just in case. So while I drove, Mr. Handsome called. From what I heard of the conversation, it sounded like they were having a great time over there. Grandpa could only speak softly, but he was still aware of what was going on, and we were told that he was enjoying himself.
Mr. Handsome told a neat story that we had heard that evening, about the connection between President George Washington’s inauguration, the consecration of the new nation to the Lord, and the September 11th terrorist attacks. Grandpa was a veteran who loved history and was open about his patriotism and his devotion to his country. He was also a devout Christian who loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength.
We ended our phone conversation at 9:30. Grandpa was starting to look sleepy, so Grandma tucked him into bed, and the family that had been visiting left, with plans to return the next day to see him. Soon after we made it back to our house, we received a call from my mother-in-law. Grandpa had passed away in his sleep. The news was unexpected, but it was a blessing that the Lord took him home before the cancer really took a toll on his body.
The funeral was emotional (especially when Mr. Handsome and his brothers started tearing up on stage while singing) but it was neat to hear about Grandpa’s childhood, his service in the military, his conversion to Christianity, and the many ways he had impacted his family, friends, and community.