26 January 2010

Letter from my Grandfather...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 marked the 9th anniversary of the death of my paternal grandfather, Edward Julian. I have written tributes to my grandfather before just because he was such a wonderful person in my life. Not that I didn't love, honor and respect my mother's father (Hector Melvin, Sr.), we just didn't have the relationship that I had with my other grandfather. Maybe the fact that I was the ONLY granddaughter and FIRST grandchild on my dad's side of the family - while I am only one of many and "nothing special" on my mom's side of the family has something to do with the quality and depth of the two relationships. Maybe.

Ever since my grandfather's death, I always take the week of the Martin Luther King holiday off as a vacation. This year was no exception. I don't usually plan anything during that week, but for the last two years, I have actually been blessed to be in Palatka, FL where he lived, ministered and died, on the anniversary of his death. It is always surreal to me to be in his city, his house, his study (which is where I usually sleep when I visit my grandmother) and know that he is not there. And this year was no exception - I don't think I will ever "celebrate" the anniversary of his passing in that house again, but only God knows the future.

After I returned home, I decided to do some "spring cleaning" - even though spring is still months and months and months away. While clearing out an old file cabinet in my den, I came across a redweld labeled JUNK WORTH SAVING and within that redweld, a file folder subtitled: LETTERS. In the folder was a single card. A thank you card dated October 1997. It was from my grandparents who had just visited me in my brand new home for 11 days. Inside the card was a two page letter from my grandfather.

Now, you have to understand: MY GRANDFATHER WAS NOT A LETTER WRITER! This is the one and only letter I ever received from my grandfather in my (at the time) 33 years of life. EVER! My grandmother was (and still is) the card sender, signer, communicator, letter writer. She would sign all my birthday cards, Grandma and Grandpa (yeah, he never - or rarely - even signed the cards). Every written communication in my life with my grandparents was by, to and from her. So, although I don't remember my feelings when I initially got the letter from my grandfather, even then, I recognized the importance and significance of the letter and considered it "worth saving" (although WHY I called it "junk" is my own twisted sense of humor. And NO, I did not change the name of the file folder!)

I will not share the contents of the letter - that is between me and my granddaddy - but suffice it to say, I welled up with tears as I read his message of blessing and love and encouragement. What a treasure to have found and to have. You see, at the time he wrote the letter, he was dying. Dying of the bone cancer that would eventually kill him. None of us knew it at the time, I just knew he was sick and not himself. It took 3 years and some months before he died, but that trip was the beginning of the end.

I miss my grandfather almost every day - and often wish I could speak with him one mo' time again. He "got" me when most people sometimes don't and always had words of CHRISTIAN counsel to give me when I doubted myself or was going through a crisis. He celebrated my accomplishments, shared my joys, prayed when I was sick, encouraged me when I doubted myself and my decisions, and loved me for me. Now, he was not perfect, but he was the "perfect" grandfather for me.

I look forward to meeting him in the clouds when Jesus returns to take His children home. I look forward to hearing his baritone voice ring out in song (that brotha could sing!). I don't know if we will have "guest speakers" on Sabbath, but if we do, I hope there is a "church" somewhere in heaven where the "local elders" get to speak so I can hear one of his down home, full of love for God sermons once again. I look forward to sitting at a table in heaven eating watermelon (which I am allergic to here on earth) and hearing him say, "Deee-licious!" with that twinkle in his eye. And one day, in heaven, my grandfather is gonna sing "Happy Birthday" to me and I won't cringe or cry as I wait for the song to end. Yeah, there are a LOT of reasons to want to go to heaven - hanging out with my grandfather is definitely one of them.

I pray that you have an Edward Julian in your life. And I pray that even if they are no longer living, you have some tangible proof, memory of them that helps you to hold on to the hand of God so that you will have the hope, the promise of seeing them again someday.

Be blessed.

PS: The attached picture of me and my granddaddy was taken in 1978 when he retired from his job and left Hartford, CT to begin a new ministry at the Bethany SDA Church in Palatka, FL.

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