I don’t remember my grandfather.
For years, I saw the shell of my grandfather. I was constantly told, “This is not Poppy,” but I didn’t remember what Poppy really was like. I’ve seen home videos of myself as a toddler, playing with my grandfather. I recognize his face, but his smile surprises me. There is so much life in this man on my TV screen, so much joy…but where did he go?
My grandfather was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia when I was almost four. Lewy Body Dementia is a combination of symptoms from diseases such as dementia, Parkinsons, and Alzhiemers. He lived with this disease for 15 years, slowly deteriorating to a speechless, motionless being, who had no idea what was going on around him. He passed away this past summer.
My grandmother was always by his side. She lived in an apartment complex attached to the nursing home for years, visiting him right when she woke up, right before bed, and any possible time in between. Although the man she loved could not communicate with her, she communicated her love for him constantly. Whether it be feeding him lunch, or pushing his wheelchair down the hallway, she continuously showed her children and grandchildren an astounding example of Christ-like love.
My dad tells me stories of his parents when he was growing up. They moved around a lot because my grandfather was a fantastic coach in high-demand. Because of being a high-school coach, my grandfather did not make a lot of money. It would be a stretch for my dad to say that they were monetarily rich growing up, but they were rich in love. My grandparents were always happy. Whether they were living in a mobile home, a rental house, or on a campsite, they lived life to the fullest and loved each other deeply. Whatever life brought their way, my grandparents embraced it and loved even more passionately.
My wonderful grandparents on their wedding day.
So, when my grandmother came to Texas to visit for Thanksgiving, I didn’t know what to expect. It was her first holiday without her husband. Although his mind had been gone for many years, his physical being was gone now as well.
My family has only memories to love.
Thanksgiving morning, I awoke to hear my grandmother crying downstairs. Although we all rushed to console her, there was nothing we could do to change the fact that my grandfather was gone for this Thanksgiving and the rest.
This Thanksgiving, I was reminded that there is so much more to Thanksgiving than good food and football. Although those are both two of my families favorite things, I realized that those pale in comparison to the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what you are thankful for.
For Christians, this is a time to reflect on the things the Lord has graciously given you. Instead of reflecting on my grandfather being taken away from our family, my grandmother remembered the years that the Lord had blessed them with. The day they met at Greenville College. Their wedding day. The days their children were born. The days their grandchildren were born.
Life is short. Instead of reflecting on the bad days, why don’t we try and make everyday a good one?
Enjoy your family. Count your blessings. Be Thankful.
This Thanksgiving, my grandmother reminded me what it means to give thanks.
I have a superb family, and I am extremely thankful for them.