Gentle Giant

My grandfather was my hero. I loved everything about him. My experiences with him taught me so many tangible things about life that I still glean from today. There was one experience that taught me that even when we lose someone, the Holy Spirit gives us comfort in our grief and joy in our healing. Please enjoy this excerpt from my book My Grandma My God . This passage details my grandfather’s heart after he lost his best friend in a boating accident. He went through some trauma, but he never lost sight of God.

Then one day, out of the blue, the whistling was silenced forever. My uncle or someone, I hate that I can’t remember who, brought my grandaddy home on a day that would forever be marked with sadness. I was surprised, because I was sure that he had been out fishing and I don’t recall my uncle or anyone ever having brought him home before from a fishing trip. This memory is filled with waves of darkness that prevent clarity, that cut my guardian angel wide open and exposed his delicate and glorious insides. His best friend had drowned during their fishing adventure. He had fallen out of the boat and my grandaddy was helpless and could not save him. He watched his best friend die. Not from old age or even a long illness that allowed them time together to reminisce the good times, before he was taken. But a violent, unforgiving death of torture, an uncontrolled struggle for a single breath not to leave life in such a manner. Death snatched the light away that was Mr. Melody and left darkness and an unwanted grievous and silent reality in its wake. That day, the sun refused to shine. I could hear voices in the kitchen as an explanation of how that day’s events unfolded was told to my grandma. I sat beside my gentle giant on the long brown leather couch that held dominance in our small living room. His head was hung low and his heart was crying. I could feel and hear it weep as I placed my tiny hand on his shoulder. I didn’t speak. I didn’t say I was sorry. I didn’t offer condolences. I just wept. I wept softly, beside him as his heart wept within. His heart was weeping so hard, I wondered if anyone else could hear it besides me.

There were no outward signs of grief, just a look of being lost and at a loss. I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it through this process. His eyes were somewhere else, as though they were searching for a different reality. He seemed to be locked in a time and space that had visited him before.  A place where his heart was weakened and deeply and sorrowfully without relief. I don’t remember grandma opening curtains that day or the days that followed. I don’t remember the television playing or laughter in the house the week his best friend died and was laid to rest. I remember grandma, being sweet to him and whispered conversations of kindness shared by just the two of them. I remember, she was there and she was strong. She seemed to know him and just what he needed. I don’t remember her requesting anything but being there when requested. I remember the sorrow that accompanied that day and how it sat for months after that in our tiny home. But it never soaked into the walls. It was just lingering heavily in the air as though it belonged there for a time. Like it was necessary to help with the process of granddaddy’s grief. I remember his boat with the fresh tar paint, that was now covered in the back yard in his boat shed never to sail again after that horrific day.

As time passed and days became months, my granddaddy was back to himself again. I believe he forgave himself, for something he had no control over. He allowed himself to be free of the guilt and shame of being a survivor. He always allowed me and grandma to love him and help him through his grief. He allowed himself to be happy and allowed his heart to experience joy again and to move forward with life. We would often talk about Mr. Melody over a good laugh while playing a game of checkers outside. Remembering conversations and lessons taught at the speaking fence.

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