>My friend & neighbor Mary Beth has taken care of her Dad, Dell, in their home for the last 10 years.
Last Saturday afternoon she told Gene that he was now on hospice so we should say our goodbyes.
Alivia was at my sister’s house and came home right away so she could go see him. Her and Grandpa Dell as he was called, were very close. 86 years apart and they had such a special bond. Click here to read their story.
He had a stroke about a week before and wasn’t able to talk so along with Mary Beth, Gene and Alivia and I stood next to him and held his hands. As Gene prayed over him, I had my arm around Alivia and tears slid off her pretty nose. When I told him I loved him there was no response, but when Alivia did, he kissed her cheek twice, it was so sweet. Sunday afternoon Alivia went to see him again and came home and said he gave her a kiss again. Hours later at 9:39pm, surrounded by his entire family, Grandpa Dell’s eternity began.
Exactly what he had wanted.
Thursday we went to his celebration of life.
His son-in-law Keith, Mary Beth’s husband who is a pastor, spoke and did a beautiful job.
I sat there listening to all the funny stories shared and memories each family member had wanted said about their Dad and Grandpa.
The consistency within in each memory was Jesus.
I learned that Dell’s desire to be with Jesus wasn’t just in his latter years, but that he wanted to go from the time he invited Jesus to be his Savior.
I learned how he and his bride Ruth would pass out Bibles and how he’d leave a big tip for a waitress or waiter in a Bible saying “they’re going to have to open their Bible to get their tip”.
They joked about the hitchhikers he would pick up and how the passenger probably “couldn’t wait to get out of the car away from this crazy man talking about end times”. We laughed when Keith said how whenever someone died and they told Dell, he’d accuse them of “cutting in line before him”.
But most of all, I heard of his love for Jesus Christ.
I heard his legacy.
And being his neighbor, I was blessed to see it first hand too.
Clearly, Grandpa Dell was all about Jesus.
He wanted the rapture to happen the minute he accepted Christ as his Savior
Family or friend, neighbor or stranger, son or daughter, in-law or grandchild was going to hear of Jesus whether you wanted to or not.
Keith shared how the grand kids remember seeing him in God’s Word all of the time.
How his meal time prayers would go on so long the food would get cold.
And how he was generous beyond the imagination.
I have been to many funerals, but I can honestly say it was the first one that I left feeling a little jealous of the deceased because he sincerely wanted death so he could live with Jesus.
I love Jesus Christ, but have never expressed a desire to want to die to be with Him. “Die to self” I’ve said before but I’ve never wished for my physical death.
Sitting there listening to the stories about my neighbor, I realized that I didn’t have the same zeal for Jesus that Dell had. I want to be with Jesus, but not to the point of leaving this earth right now.
And this man did.
He wanted to give up everything here to be with Jesus there.
Now, don’t miss the point here.
Grandpa Dell loved his family deeply and he loved being with his family. But he loved God more.
He knew God is the Author of life and He is the One to write our final chapter and so his death would happen on God’s timing. Knowing that though didn’t stop his prayers urging God to pen the words THE END.
He didn’t obsess with death, instead, he just desired for his eternal life to start.
He lived the life God gave him well and without a doubt heard the welcome words of his Father, Well done good and faithful servant.
At other funerals, I have been so saddened by the loss that celebration was far from my mind.
But as I sat in the pew Thursday and laughed at the family stories, I felt no guilt from being happy for him. Tears filled my eyes at the beautiful Chris Tomlin song, “I Will Rise” that was sung and I came to the conclusion that it was easier to celebrate his passing because he really wanted to go.
Since Thursday, I’ve been thinking about the legacy I’m leaving my children and grandchildren.
The thing is that we all might not stick around until we’re 95 like Grandpa Dell did…against his will, I might add. 🙂
As I scrolled down the page, I praised the Lord for such generous souls with tear filled eyes.
I burst into tears when I read the last name on the list: Dell Sand. Our sweet neighbor, Grandpa Dell.
Later that evening in conversation with his daughter, I thanked her for the gift in his memory.
She said, “Oh no, I sent that in for him a week and a half before he died”.
What a gift.
What a man.
What a life.
What a legacy.
Thank you Grandpa Dell for believing in me. Have fun with Jesus and your beloved Ruthie.
And thank you for the friendship you and Alivia shared; she will miss you forever and never forget you.