Tuesday morning, September 7, 2021, I was walking a job site for a project my team is working on when I received news that my Grandpa had passed away. While I wasn’t surprised given his recent health, I was still taken aback – sad and happy at the same time. I was sad, because I knew I would never see him again in this earthly life. I was happy, because I knew he was no longer suffering and I would one day see him again in heaven.
I’m still trying to capture all my thoughts and memories of him. Some initial things come to mind:
- Grandpa had some responsibility for my musical skill and interest and for that of our family. While Leanne’s family rightfully gets most of the credit, Grandpa gave me his silver alto saxophone when I was getting ready to start fifth grade. That instrument led me into many practices, performances, and interactions I might never have had otherwise. My senior year in high school, I played in three separate jazz groups that went to states (in New Jersey). I still have the saxophone, and I’ll treasure it as a memory and connection to my Grandpa. Both my kids pursued music starting at a young age, and Isaac (my son) is pursuing a career in music.
- Grandpa took a lot of steps in his life. As a USPS mail carrier, he loved his route and the people he met along the way as he delivered the mail. I think of Grandpa often when I’m out on my daily walks (today is day 1,240 in my streak of 10,000+ steps a day). While the last several years haven’t been kind to Grandpa’s mobility, I will always remember him as a man in motion.
- Grandpa made the most of every opportunity when it came to sharing God’s love and God’s message with others. In my wallet is a card from Grandpa that includes two questions: (1) Do you have a prayer request for me? (2) Have you come to a place in your life where you know that when you die, your are going to Heaven? Grandpa gave these cards out, and he asked these two questions whenever he had the chance. He is responsible for introducing perhaps hundreds of people to Jesus Christ. While Grandpa was far from perfect, I think this is a model worth following.
As I continue to process Grandpa’s life and his passing, I will perhaps have more to share. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy getting to know him a little better. He has been mentioned in several of my past posts. Here are links for you to learn more:
Friday afternoon at the end of my workday, I received a phone call from my Grandpa. Grandpa Miller lives in Minneapolis, MN, and I live outside of Philadelphia, PA which means we don’t see each other very often. And I’m embarrassed to admit we don’t talk nearly as often as we should. I think we both share the guilt for our infrequent conversations.
One of the things that keeps us connected is my blog. Every time I publish a new blog post, Grandpa gets an email from me. He keeps tabs on me in part by reading my blog posts.
I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I didn’t publish a single blog post last week. One person did notice – Grandpa. His phone call on Friday afternoon was a call of concern for me. Was a sick? Was I busy? Was I okay? Grandpa called to check-up on me.
Grandpa’s phone call reminded me of several important things….
Always say “I love you” for you don’t know if/when you will see each other again. I recall as a young first or second grader, I had a fear of never being able to see my Grandpa Miller again. He had just dropped me off at school, and he and Grandma were getting ready to travel from Wheaton, IL back to Minneapolis, MN. I remember the school called my home after the school day started to give me a chance to talk with my Grandpa. He ended up walking or driving back to the school before his trip back to Minneapolis just so I could say “I love you.” Now, Grandpa is 93 years old, and the last few years haven’t been kind to him. I don’t talk to him nearly as frequently as I should, but every conversation ends with “I love you.” This is how it should be with everyone we love. We don’t want to live in regret thinking we left things on a bad note.
Recently, I was on the phone with my Grandpa Miller. Grandpa recently turned 94 years old. Physically, he is definitely showing signs of his age. He can’t run around like he used to when he was in his 70s and 80s. And while is mind isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be, I’ve been impressed by how well he is doing mentally and spiritually. During our phone conversation, he shared with me his pattern for prayer….
Teach Me To Count (last week’s post)
This fact has been hitting home for me on a much more personal level these past two or three weeks as my family watches my Grandpa Miller in his last days. At 94 years old, he has lived a long life. He is a retired USPS mail carrier (he loved his job). He served in the U.S. Army in Germany in World War II. He was always very particular about his lawn and his cars for which he always paid cash. Grandpa was frugal. He was a meat and potatoes guy. More than these things, he loved Jesus, and he loved introducing people to Jesus. Over the past few years as his physical body has been failing, he has remained committed to praying (I wrote about this in a recent blog post).
Grandpa is tired and worn out. He is ready to go home – to his heavenly home….
As long as I can remember, I have always taken great pride in keeping a nice lawn. I may have been influenced by my Grandpa Miller who always kept his lawn green and well manicured when I was younger. My obsession with a nice lawn may also have been shaped by my experience as a teenager cutting people’s lawns throughout the area….
(This post was more about Grandma Miller, but Grandpa is mentioned in the post.)
When you think of someone with a positive attitude, who comes to your mind?
The first person to come to my mind is my Grandma Miller. Grandma passed away several years ago, but her positive attitude still impacts me. Grandma struggled with multiple sclerosis for most of her life. Her knees failed her. She suffered from seizures. And towards the end of her life, she could barely hold her head up. Despite her physical ailments, she remained positive. She often had a song on her lips, and she was friendly with every single person who crossed her path. If there was someone I know who had a positive attitude, it was my Grandma Miller….