It was early on the morning of my 27th birthday last week when my husband received a phone call from his mother: “Your Grandpa’s gone. He just passed away.” Even though Grandpa Taylor had been battling dementia and Alzheimer’s for over three years, the finality of this news was still hard to swallow. Memories immediately swirled in my head of this incredible man. Grandpa Cliff would never teach math equations again on earth. He would never lead Bible studies and preach God’s love to others again on earth. He would never make another hilarious joke that made us all laugh again on earth. He would never tell his awesome stories of teaching on an Indian reservation, traveling across the country, and fighting in World War II again on earth. He wasn’t on earth anymore.
I only knew Grandpa Cliff for a few years, but the few years that I had the privilege of being in his presence were rich and blessed. He had a quiet peace about him that I so often craved. His wisdom and faith were admirable. I appreciated the Godly legacy that he passed down to all of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I always left his house with my spirit being filled, never drained. What a tangible testimony he was to the power of God’s grace molding us continually to look more and more like the Savior.
I have often heard that when someone loses a loved one that they examine their own life choices and purposes in light of eternity. I found myself on my birthday sitting at our kitchen table, staring out the window and doing just this. I was now 27 years old. I found myself wondering if I would leave the world a better place if I suddenly left it in death. It was challenging because I realized how many selfish actions creep into my daily routine. What stays behind when I leave this temporary earth? Will people be encouraged and spurred on to follow Christ faithfully because of His testimony in me or will they be hindered by my actions and character? Ouch. Tough questions. Tears started trickling down my cheeks. I asked God to help me live this short life He had given me faithfully and purposefully so that He could be honored and others could be encouraged. I asked God to help me live less selfishly and more like Grandpa Taylor.
Soon my tears dried and my solemn demeanor turned into smiles. Grandpa wasn’t on earth anymore, but I started imagining what kind of celebrations he was partaking in at this moment in Heaven. He probably was joking around with others and telling them his amazing stories from his first life. He was probably hugging his brothers and sister and daughter that had made the journey before him. He was probably reveling in the King of King’s holy presence with laughter and smiles on his lips too. He was probably enjoying his perfect mind and body that could finally do what he wanted it to do. He was probably filled with peace and joy. He was home. Happy First Day in Heaven, Grandpa Taylor. It’s an honor to share a birthday with you.