Grandpa Burton

August 5, 2008

Monday July 28, 2008 was a day that I have dreaded for most of my life. Until that day came, I did not know what the calendar date would be but ever since I understood what death was, I have dreaded the day that I would lose my Grandpa Burton to death. I am still dreading losing my other grandparents and I know I have been extremely blessed by God to reach age thirty before facing a loss of this kind. He was 84 years old but his death was sudden and unexpected. This has been an unspeakably hard week for me and for my family but God is good. He has given us all strength to make it through these hard days and He has even helped me to see many things for which I am thankful.

* I am thankful that my Grandpa lived 84 years. He had a heart attack in 1992 and another scare a few years ago but he survived both times and he was able to live long enough to see his grandchildren reach adulthood and to see seven of his great grandchildren.

* I am thankful that he lived his 84 years fully up until the very end. The last thing he did was cut the grass on that Monday afternoon. He could still drive wherever they needed to go and he could still fix things and make things. He had an almost finished stained glass butterfly on his work table, lacking just three pieces.

* I am thankful for the 60 years of marriage my grandparents had together. Their 60th anniversary would have been on September 24 of this year, less than two months from now. They had a 4 day trip to Branson, MO planned to celebrate.

* I am thankful that Grandpa never had to give up the things he loved to do. He loved to sit in his recliner and take cat naps and work crossword puzzles but he could never sit still long. He was usually outside, in the basement, or helping Grandma clean up the kitchen. I heard he recently climbed up on his roof and cleaned his own gutters!

* I am thankful that Grandpa didn’t have a long painful illness that caused him to suffer or to live his last days in pain.

* I am thankful that there never came a day that he didn’t recognize our faces or my grandma’s face and that he never had to move into a nursing home. He would never have wanted to be a burden on anyone.

* I am thankful for the precious memories we have, even though I always assumed I would have more notice when it was time to say good-bye. That part has been hard but I know God knows best.

* I am thankful that my entire family was together this week as we celebrated his life. During the funeral service, my sisters, three of my cousins, and I read letters to Grandpa that we wrote to him during the days before the funeral. They were amazing testimonies of a wonderful, godly man who loved and served God and his family. People at the funeral who had never met him felt like they knew him and wanted to be more like him when that hour was over.

* I am thankful for pictures and old photo albums who faithfully guard our memories until we need to pull them out during days like these.

* I am thankful that our family moved to Kansas City exactly two years ago to be closer to family and for all the little visits we had, especially our lunches at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. We went there for lunch just a few weeks ago and Grandpa cut and served Liam’s favorite, Cheeseburger meatloaf. I am thankful I didn’t know that was the last time I would eat a meal with Grandpa or hold his hand and hear him pray.

* I am thankful my mom and dad sold their house in Bristol in time to be here in Kansas City for the last 6 months and that my dad stopped by for a visit with Grandpa and Grandma just an hour or so before he died.

* I am thankful my Grandpa got to eat catfish, steak, and chocolate in the last month of his life and that he was able to attend a patriotic service where he was honored with other veterans for their service to our country a month before his death.

* I am thankful that he didn’t pass away ON someone’s birthday, since we had 4 birthdays in the family in the 10 day period between July 26-August 4. God’s timing is perfect. If he had passed away two weeks before he did, my dad would have been in Washington on business, a week before and my cousin would have been in Hawaii, a week later than he did and my uncle would have been in Florida on business.

* I am thankful that the air conditioning in my van didn’t go out on our rushed trip home from Alabama, slowing us down by a day, and that it hung in there during the funeral days so I could get where I needed to be with all 4 of my kids.

* I am thankful for all the things my grandpa made for me over the years that will help keep him alive in my heart for years to come and that my children will have concrete reminders of him. He made a cradle for me 30 years ago and all 4 of my kids have used it, too. He made me a few stained glass pieces and a toybox and a keepsake chest. He recently made a wooden step stool for Dresden and my two nieces and nephew with their names on them.

* I am thankful for so many more things, too….don’t be surprised if you find little things about him on this blog for many months to come. This is the first time death has hit me so close to home and it’s going to take awhile to adjust to life with a huge hole in it.

* Lastly, I am thankful for the hope we have in Christ. Because of Christ, I know I will see my grandpa again someday and I know that my grandpa is rejoicing in being in the presence of Christ and resting in Him! I am thankful for the reminder at the graveside service that in this vapor of life, we walk through the valley of the SHADOW of death and that this separation is only temporary. Praise God for His unspeakable gift of Christ, enabling us to fellowship in Him for all eternity!

Grandpa's big smile!

4 Responses to “Grandpa Burton”

  1. Mom said

    Great Post! So many memories I cannot process them all. And yes, you made me cry! Thank you. Love, Mom

  2. Dad said

    Tara, this was such a warm, wonderful tribute to Grandpa. Thank you so very much for taking the time and effort to put it together and post it. I love you!

  3. Heidi said

    Thanks for shining a light on ALL the things we DO have to be thankful for—even in light of losing Grandpa. God IS good…and this post made me think of all the good times and all the blessings God gave us in the midst of the sadness. Thanks for posting your thoughts. Miss y’all already! Love you.

  4. Jana said

    Good post Tara. Thank you for your thoughts and memories of Grandpa. We all miss him SO very much!!

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