Saturday, January 28, 2006

I received a phone call tonight.

This phone call was one of those that you expect, but none the less dread. My grandfather has been sick with serious cancer for many years. We knew that this would come - actually, we thought that it would've come a few years ago (praise and thanks to God that it didn't!) - but knowing it would happen and the actual event are very, very different.

I remember being at college when I heard for the first time that grampa had level 4 cancer. I had known and loved my grandparents for as long as I can remember, and so news of this dire nature was shocking and very sad. I can remember when I was a kid and going to visit, working in the wood shop, going to the coffee shop (I had a soda or juice), building tree forts, feeding the sheep, playing in the hayloft and so many more great memories made possible and influenced by my grandpa and grandma Johnson.

Upon hearing the news that he had cancer (7 or 8 years ago, now), I had one big...HUGE, concern: Was grampa saved? If he died and went on to eternity, would he be in the presence of Christ, or would he be cast off into eternal perdition where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth?

I was asking myself this question, and I realized that I didn't know for sure what the answer was. I mean, I knew that he is and always has been a good man, a nice and kind man, a helpful man - but that doesn't mean anything, necessarily. I know that hell is filled with "good" men and women, even kind and helpful men and women.

I was so concerned about grampa that one night I called my parents, and I did something for the first time ever in my life. I "told" my father that he "needed" to talk with grampa to find out where he was - spiritually. I actually think that I told my dad something like, "If you don't talk to grampa about this, I will!" Now, I think that my dad graciously listened to my heartfelt request, and then told me that he had recently had just such a conversation with his folks and that because of the answers that were given (along with the testimony of the rest of their lives) he was very confident that the faith of my grandparents was a true and saving faith.

I was, and am, very confident in my father's prognosis - there is no man alive today that I know who I trust more deeply in genuine insight and wisdom when it concerns genuine faith and the Word of God than my father, and there is good reason for this (but I will not go into that now). I think that this investigation into the faith of my grandparents by my father was a turning point in a lot of ways. The most obvious change was that now, both of my grandparents had more open and visible spiritual lives. This was a refreshing change from the very private faith that they had had for as long as I had known them. It was great to hear my grandparents talk about the bible studies that they were in, and what they were learning!

So, here I am.

Tonight, I found out that my Grampa Johnson died today at 5 PM .

I loved my grampa. He was one of the most generous and loving men that I have ever known. He also was very giving and creative. He was a great craftsman. In his retired years he taught himself how to weave wicker baskets and make all sorts of little, useful items for around the house. I'll never forget the two most special things that he made for me.

In the summer of 1998 I asked Grampa if he (or we) could make a chess board. I had begun to love this game in high school, and I wanted a special board to play on as well as for a keepsake. Well, after I asked him about it, I didn't hear about it again, so I dropped it and thought that I might bring it up in another year or so. Well, Christmas came around that year and as we were opening presents, Grampa handed me a gift. I opened it and I saw a really nice, homemade chess board. As I was looking up to say thank you, I saw my two brothers opening up identical presents. Grampa had made 3 of them - one for each of us. He also made matching chess pieces for us - it is one of the most special Christmas presents that I have ever received. To this day, this is the chess board that I bring out to play on when I get a chance.

The second thing that he made for me started off as a great idea in the summer of 2003. Stephanie and I had recently been married, and we were looking to decorate our home. I had a great idea to build a big bookshelf with grampa. In July or August of 2003 my grandparents had made a special trip up to visit family and to meet their first great-grandchild, my son Micah. When they came up, grampa brought plans for a bookshelf, and we figured out what and how we wanted to build it. The sad part is that because I had a newborn, it was hard for me to get away for a weekend to work with grampa in the shop. Truth be told, I think that if I had gone down and left Stephanie alone with Micah, grampa would have had a few things to say to me - and these words would have not ones in affirmation of my decision to leave them for a few days. Well, around August or September of 2003 my whole 3-person family went on our first road trip since the birth of our son. It was on this road trip that I was finally able to make it to the shop to "help" in the making of this bookshelf. Grampa had already put it all together except for the molding on the top. We finished that together, and in November of that year - he and my dad brought it up and we moved it into my first house. Since that day, it has graced our living room and been my prized piece of furniture. I think that this was the last big thing that grampa ever made. I think that he may have helped, or supervised, my dad and brother make a few more things in his shop, but this was the last big project that he did.

I'll always treasure these two things, and they will always remind me of my caring, gentle, and giving grandpa Johnson.

Delmar Francis Johnson (11/14/1928 - 1/28/2006) was a:
Korean War Veteran (Army, Infantry),
and friend,

We miss you, and we can't wait to see you again in Glory.

No comments:

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson