We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

July 15, 2008

There’s a land that is fairer than day, and by faith we can see it afar …

We shall meet those we lost long ago …
Tears of parting no longer to know, neither grief only joy in the Lord.

In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.

(Sanford Bennett, 1868.)

This is one the hymns we sang at my grandpa’s memorial service yesterday. I’ve been singing it since.

After fading gradually for the past few years, he declined more suddenly in the last week after developing diverticulosis & passed away last Friday around 2:10 in the morning. We were notified the afternoon before and were able to spend his last 12 hours with him.

At his memorial service yesterday, each of the grandchildren had a part in the service. This was mine:

Before I begin, I just wanted to say that, according to my aunt, the happiest day of my grandpa’s life was when she was born.

The LORD Has Been His Shepherd

Psalm 23 has always been special to my grandpa, even before he really knew the LORD as his Shepherd. It began with my grandma, who was a godly, praying woman. We think she first found comfort in the words of Psalm 23 when all her children were in elementary school and my grandpa was working out of the country in Vietnam. She would gather her children around her and sing a hymn based on Psalm 23 with them. Maybe my grandpa knew what Psalm 23 meant to her, so when she passed away, she was buried with a Bible opened to Psalm 23.

On May 23, 2003, when my grandpa was taken to the hospital emergency, I was shaking and I couldn’t stop crying. I was full of fear, because I did not know if he was ready to die.

He nearly died at his own hands five years ago, on May 23, while in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and depression, and his injuries were so critical that the doctors did not think he would make it. But God was sovereign then, and He is sovereign today. He gave my grandpa five more years to live, and when he passed away three days ago, I have no doubt he was ready.

I remember my grandpa, before 2003, to be a man whose hard exterior and pride sometimes so much masked and distorted his expressions of love that he was often misunderstood. He was disciplined, strict, and authoritative – maybe that was partly personality and partly military influence – but he was a man who obviously loved his family.

My dad, my uncle, and my aunt have shared different stories about their childhood with me.

In the 1960’s, when they lived in Korea, bananas were extremely rare and expensive. Perhaps only two vendors in all of Korea sold them, and they were sold for “baek won,” about $30-50 apiece, which was a couple hour’s worth of labor. When my dad was in kindergarten or the first grade, one weekend, my grandpa took my dad to buy some bananas for the family. They bought some and shared it with the family. A simple treat for the family, but it was one his ways of expressing his affection for them.

Once they immigrated to the United States, even though my grandpa could not speak the language very well, he worked hard to provide for his family with whatever work he could find. Even though it must have been difficult for him, he still made sure almost every weekend was set apart for family outings: road trips, fishing, picnicking …

With his overtime paychecks, he bought jewelry for my grandma. For almost a year period after they moved to the U.S., he was buying her jewelry every other month by working extra hours. Simple gifts, but again, it was his way of showing his love for her.

Though his love toward his wife and children came across hard at times, toward his grandchildren, he was a loving, indulgent grandpa. He always had a bag full of candy on hand for us. He gave us all the sweets and pastries that our moms only gave to us in moderation. When we were sick, he told us candy was the best medicine.

Some of the nicknames he had for us included “Tomboy” and “Pe-pe,” a Korean expression for someone small and scrawny. Whenever my brother and I were in trouble with Dad, we ran to my grandpa because we learned at an early age that Grandpa had more power even than Dad. Even if dad was calling us to come to him in his scary voice, if we made it to Grandpa’s arms first, we were safe. He kept my dad from punishing us many times – even when we probably deserved it.

In the last five years of his life, God drew him near. We prayed God wouldn’t take him until he was ready, and when my grandpa would speak about his death, we assured him that God knew what He was doing and would take him when he was ready. And God did. I cannot deny that God’s way with my grandpa has been perfect.

When my grandpa was taken to the nursing home shortly after his close brush with death in 2003, things slowly began to change. The first few times we tried reading the Bible to him, he yelled for us to leave. Over time, however, his heart began to soften.

In November of 2006, when I went to visit him, I asked if he wanted to read the Bible. He said, “Not today, because I have too many things to think about.” I asked if it was worries. He said, “Worries and non-worries.” I asked, “Are you sad lately?” He said yes. When I asked, “Why?” he said kind of vaguely, “Because of the wrong I did/the mistake I made.” I reminded him that God forgives through Christ and loves him. I asked, “Grandpa, if your son does wrong against you, you still forgive him because you love him, right?” He nodded. I said, “God does, too, but His love and forgiveness are even greater.” His face relaxed and he closed his eyes and nodded.

Months later, when my dad and I visited him, he talked with my dad about his joy. I didn’t understand everything he told my dad, but from what I understood, he said he was trying to pray and that sometimes he just lied there on his bed, so joyful. He said the way he thinks has also completely changed. He figured his life hadn’t been so bad & that when he’s frustrated or anxious, he prays.

And though my grandma didn’t see it in her lifetime, her faithful prayers for my grandpa were answered. God had been his Shepherd all along, even when he didn’t recognize or acknowledge Him.

The words of Psalm 23 proved true in his life. “You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me . . . Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

So, this isn’t goodbye. I know I’ll see him again, where faith will finally become sight.

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8 Responses to “We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

  1. kristy4u Says:

    Hi!

    I am Mis Kristy how are you! hope you are fine and in perfect condition of health.I went through your profile and i read it and took interest in it,if you don’t mind i will like you to write me on this ID:(veyekristy@yahoo.com) hope to hear from you soon, I will be waiting for your mail because i have something VERY important to tell you.

    Lots of love,
    Kristy!

  2. cathiekimn Says:

    oh tia :]

  3. bachnguyen Says:

    good stuff tia bo bia

  4. anonymous Says:

    if you haven’t emailed kristy4u i’d avoid it. looks like she’s a spammer.

  5. tia Says:

    Thanks Anonymous, I approved & posted her comment to see if anyone would be able to shed some light on it … I haven’t emailed her yet.

    But Kristy, if you’re not a spammer, you’re more than welcome to comment on here (non-spam comments) & tell me!

    :]


  6. […] And then, “Remember your grandpa.” […]

  7. Richard Says:

    That’s weird.. I just found out my grandpa has Alcoholic (?) Alzheimer’s and depression too. His depression leads him to reminisce and become nostalgic about the past, which is when he starts crying.

    He’s not ready though. He thinks he is, but he’s definitely not.

  8. tia Says:

    God worked a miracle in my grandpa’s life … i’ll be praying for your grandpa, richard.


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