Saturday, December 15, 2012

Celebrating My Grandpa

Exactly one week ago we said our goodbyes to my Grandpa Lock. It seems like a hundred years. I have had a lot in my head, but between being sick and traveling almost 2,400 miles to get there and back, I just haven't had the energy to pull my thoughts together.

Two years ago, much of my family traveled to see my Grandpa as he battled Stage 4 Colon Cancer. Things didn't look good. It was a very difficult time for our family on many levels. Daniel and I had been living in two separate states and it seemed like everyone that was related to me was under a great deal of personal stress. I think God intentionally gave Grandpa two more years so that our great big family could have some time to heal. Two years ago, it would have been too much to lose Grandpa.

I won't say that I was prepared to lose him when it happened. It was sudden. But again, I believe God took care of things. My sister, Angela, and I (and our kiddos) happened to be visiting my parents and were with my mom when she received the sudden call that Grandpa had been admitted to the hospital and only had three days to live.

We were making dinner when my mom answered the phone. I could sense something was wrong and I mouthed the words, "Is everything ok?"

"No. It's Grandpa." She mouthed back. 

Nana and Grandpa were supposed to come down to Tennessee for Christmas in only a few short weeks so I certainly didn't expect this. 

I sat with mom while she finished the call with her older brother. I informed my sister. I called my brother. We called our husbands. My head was spinning. We helped mom prepare for a trip. A last trip to see her dad. Unfortunately he died peacefully right as she boarded her plane. Thankfully she was still able to go ahead and be with her family while the rest of us scrambled to get things in order so that we could make the long drive to get to Canada to mourn with her.

My dad and brother, Mark, drove up first. Straight through the night.

Angela panicked about not having a birth certificate for Levi to get him into and out of Canada.

Daniel called to tell me he had a fever and wasn't sure if he could make the trip.

Everything was a bit nuts.

I think that I must deal with high stress by getting into an organizing mode. I got people where they needed to go. I navigated plane tickets and had Daniel find us a house. I researched the birth certificate thing and tried to ease my sister's fears that she would be able to take her son to Canada. I washed and repacked cloths and shopped for supplies for our drive. And I worried a bit about everyone. I guess that is what the big sister does. 

Three days after finding out the news, we made the long drive to Canada. Fourteen hours in a car with a 13-month-old and our dog. Somehow neither Jack nor Sophie complained or fussed too much (that was mostly just me and Daniel). We arrived in the middle of the night and collapsed in our beds.

The next morning we met with my mom's immediate family (with kids, spouses, grandkids and great grandkids this group numbers 44 in all). Everyone came. This was a first ever. I haven't seen many of my cousins in years. We are all getting older and going our separate ways. It is getting harder to see them with each passing year. Grandpa would have loved to see us all together.

We cried. But we laughed too. A lot. Grandpa would have liked that. Maybe that is how we deal with our grief, we laugh. Maybe it is inappropriate, but I think Grandpa would have been proud that we were able to all be together and to celebrate his life.

Grandpa led a good life. He was a good man. He loved many. He had a heart for missions. He loved the Lord. He loved his children and his grandchildren and his greats. He especially loved our Nana. Things were not perfect. Relationships in this life never are. But I think Grandpa had peace in the end.

The memorial service was Friday evening. I really thought that I would go and bawl my eyes out. You're supposed to do that at a funeral, right? I have only been to a handful of funerals. They were sad occasions. 

Except for my Great Grandma Hotchkiss's. I was twelve. Her funeral was a celebration. I remembering laughing. A lot. I also remember that her pallbearers were her granddaughters (including my mom). Grandpa Lock's funeral was a lot like Great Grandma's.

My Uncle Mike was the main speaker. My aunts both spoke. They asked the grandchildren to speak. I had lost my voice almost completely and Angela didn't think she could talk. We wrote up some notes and Mark added to them. Of course Mark had us all laughing. But it was memories that we wouldn't want to forget. According to the cousins that did speak, it seems that Grandpa made most of the younger boy cousins pick a lot of dandelions over the years.

Part of the remarks my siblings and I wrote for the funeral:
As the southern extension of the Lock Flock, we have been blessed with grandparents who have made every effort to not let the miles between us (1,036 miles/1,667 km) prevent us from staying close. Whether it was holidays or summer vacations or graduations or weddings, Grandpa and Nana tried their best to always be at the important events in our lives.
Grandpa always enjoyed his one on one time with his grandkids. Nana invented Special Time, but as the years passed, Grandpa made sure to get special time of his own. He liked taking us to Timmies but also loved to go for breakfast at Sambo’s. All of those talks made us feel special and loved.
Seeing how Grandpa loved Nana and always treated her with respect and love and made sure that she was happy, has helped us as adults to know how to treat those we love. 

My life is richer for having my Grandpa in my life. He didn't always talk a lot. Especially not in a huge crowd. In our family that is a difficult thing. There is always a huge crowd. But if you could get a few moments with him, alone, then he would talk. He had a sense of humor that I see in my cousins. Jokes that we all share. I always think of it as Lock humor. I have it too. 

Nana and Grandpa would have been married for 60 years next summer. They leave a great legacy of strong marriages. An example of persevering even when things are hard. Of showing love and respect to the end. 

Saturday we laid Grandpa to rest. It must be a Canadian thing because the cousins were pallbearers, including me and two other of the girl cousins. It was cold and rainy. A gloomy day in December. It might be said that God was weeping for Grandpa. I think that while our tears were sad, God's would be tears of joy in welcoming Grandpa into heaven. After my Uncle David's remarks, my cousin Joel led us in a pidgin song. This probably caused me to tear up the most out of anything else during Grandpa's celebration. I will forever miss listening to Grandpa's booming voice when we sing songs in church or as a family. I look forward to seeing Grandpa in heaven some day. I am sad that he won't be coming for Christmas this year...

-- Raymond Mont Lock 1931-2012 --

LOCK, Raymond Mont - Peacefully, at Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie on Tuesday, December 4, 2012, Ray Lock, aged 81 years, of Port Colborne. Beloved husband of Elizabeth. Dear father of David and Dorothy (North Bay), Lois and Larry Voyles (Searcy, Arkansas), Michael and Barb (Mississauga), Becky and Malvin Allgood (Nashvilloe, Tenn.), Bethany and Chris Wirkkunen (Welland) and daughter-in-law, Karen Lock. Also survived by 16 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Brother of Elwyn (Alberta) and Hugh (Saskatchewan).

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