I saw my Grandpa Buller die. I have never seen someone pass away before. I have been in the room when someone was close or soon after the fact. But never at that very moment. I did not belong there. That moment was between his wife and six children. I was asked to come in “to give a word as he passed.” How surreal. I prayed the only thing that I knew how to pray. I asked that he would go quickly and quietly (he was in a lot of pain). I asked that somehow and someway that he had the opportunity to respond to the gospel and was at peace with Christ. I prayed that the family would stand united during this difficult time. I thanked God for my grandfather’s life and what that life meant to all of us as individuals and as a family.
I had such mixed emotions after the fact. My brother and I had driven down to Oregon City to be with family. To say our goodbyes. To be his grandchildren. And yet, due to the events that were so beyond our control, I was called on to pastor – to reflect Christ in bringing peace, comfort, and love. Maybe that is what it means to be a disciple – to trust Jesus enough to do whatever he asks – to often be who you cannot be if it was not for the empowerment of his very Spirit? I wanted to grieve right there at that very moment. But I knew that I could not. I had to help. I had to work. That was how I was to honor my grandfather at that moment. My uncles and aunts – and especially my grandmother – needed to mourn. I was truly honored to be asked to officiate the memorial . . . but I also understood that it would mean not being able to grieve the way I wanted and when I wanted. I experienced something similar when my stepfather passed a year and a half ago. It took me nearly six months to cry . Doesn’t that sound bad? But I had to do the job at hand. This is a similar situation. And yet, I know I did all I could when I could to help our family. I love my grandfather and I am grateful for what I have learned this past week – but even more so – what I learned from his life and leadership.
To be honest, I hesitated with the idea of writing about this. I know that this is one of those life moments where I am going to put some things down and then a year from now look back and realize that I had only scratched the service. Or worse yet just spent an entire post in randomness. That my thoughts and reflections were premature and largely incomplete. And yet, I fear that if I do not write them down I will not be able to get them out. I will never forget the way that Grandpa Buller died. His family was at his side. He fought years for years after he lost his legs when doctors only gave him a five percent chance of survival. But even more than that – I will remember how he lived. He cared for his family. He loved to learn. He put smiles on people’s face. I want to be that guy. I want to continue his legacy. I want to expand it and strengthen it. I often pray for my children, my boys especially, that they do far more good on behalf of Christ than I ever will. I know this is only possibly as I pass on to them a healthy and whole foundation. Now, after seeing my Grandfather pass, I know that this is what I really want more than anything else. I am grateful for my family. For Grandpa, my wife, my uncles, my in-laws, mentors, friends, and especially my father. Help me to be worthy of what I have been given, to rediscover what I have lost, and to recapture what I was taken from me.
I realize, in times such as these, that every life stage brings challenges. I am thirty-one. I only have one grandparent left. Funerals and memorials will only increase. Death is a part of life. Solomon once reflected, “There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: A right time for birth and another for death, a right time to plant and another to reap, a right time to kill and another to heal, a right time to destroy and another to construct, a right time to cry and another to laugh, a right time to lament and another to cheer, a right time to make love and another to abstain, a right time to embrace and another to part, a right time to search and another to count your losses, a right time to hold on and another to let go, a right time to rip out and another to mend, a right time to shut up and another to speak up, a right time to love and another to hate, a right time to wage war and another to make peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, The Message).
I don’t say these things to sound morbid. Death happens. But so does birth. And rebirth. Life is so much bigger than my one life. What will I leave my children? What will the Farley name be when I am done with it? Will I pass on an undying love for God and others? Will my children devote themselves to seeking and saving the lost? To making things right in our world? To looking forward to heaven but not wasting their time on earth? My grandfather was not perfect. But he was a great man. I pray that I live up to his heritage. That we can not only do some of the things that he did . . . but far greater. I pray that somehow and someway that Christ is glorified through his grandchildren and great grandchildren. That every generation grows closer and closer to Christ and his church. I don’t want to waste a moment. I don’t want to look back on my life and have any regrets. I want to enjoy every relationship to the fullest. I want to be a family. Love you, Grandpa.