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Monday, 29 April 2013

Two Grandfathers, One Epitaph

The other day I was reading Psalm 92 and began to reflect on the fact that both my grandfathers had a strong connection to this psalm.  My maternal grandfather has this verse engraved on his tombstone: “Het is goed de Here te loven,” which is translated “It is good to praise the Lord.”  At my paternal grandfather’s funeral, this same verse was given to the pastor in order to give a message of comfort for the family.
   What I find remarkable is that despite the differences in the lives they led, they felt the strong need to praise the Lord in joys and struggles.
    Both of my grandfathers were born in the same decade (1905 and 1903) in the Netherlands and were entrepreneurs.  They both reached the milestone of being married more than 50 years to the wives of their youth.  They raised large families of 10 children and 8 children, respectively and led their households in the area of faith.
   My maternal grandfather held a variety of occupations, from selling pails of hot water and laundry products to the people of his village in Holland to barbering to selling products from a cart door-to-door as was common during that time.  He suffered some business setbacks, including leaving a family partnership to protect the honour of his wife and losing his home and business to a “friendly fire” incident in 1943. (To read more about this click on my post Friendly Fire Close to Home) Towards the end of his life he was afflicted with Parkinson’s disease and stayed in a hospital when care at home became too difficult.  He passed away at peace with his Lord in 1982.
   My paternal grandfather was also employed in many areas, including vegetable merchant, market gardener, cheese maker, dairy farmer and raising other livestock. (To read more about this grandfather, you can check out my post Cultivating Integrity) At the age of 51 he quit smoking for a year so that he could pass a medical and be approved to take his household to Canada.  Within three years of immigration he bought a farm and enjoyed the open spaces afforded by this new land.  He and his wife retired to a winterized trailer parked in a secluded part of the farm in order to pass on the homestead to my father and his new bride.  Although he had some dementia my grandmother was able to care for him at home until he died in his sleep just shy of his 90th birthday.
“The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried is the character of a man.  What a man is survives him.  It can never be buried.”

--J.R. Miller as quoted in the book Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur

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