Grandpa Kraus was my favorite adult, when I was a child. I have previously written of him here, and introduced you to him through a few memories dragged to the surface because I am doing work for an elderly care home.
My Grandpa also spent his last years in an elderly care home, and as I think of it now, I find myself strangely drawn to how he must have felt about that. I am thirty-seven years old. Once, my grandpa was thirty-seven, too.
As a man younger than forty, I have a hard time thinking about what it would be like to need that sort of care. As I remember my grandpa, I remember an older man, but a man who had his wits, even at the age of eighty-five. Something changed for him, though, and he began to be confused, and a danger to himself. He could no longer take his daily walks in the countryside, a countryside he owned a good portion of.
What must it have been like inside of his mind, I wonder? He was wealthy, and he didn’t even realize it, nor did it affect him. He had worked hard all of his life, as a farmer, an American land owner feeding cities and towns across the country. He milked cows, he planted crops, he harvested the yield.
What an effect the parable of the farmer and the seed must have had on him. He would have known about the seed that fell to the weeds, the seed that fell on rocky soil, and the seed that bore a yield of a hundred fold. He would have understood the perspective of the sower, as well as the harvester. But would he have exalted himself enough to put himself into a position of the man who UNDERSTOOD?
My grandpa would not have exalted himself. He was a humble man, a quiet man. He was wiry thin, yet strong as an ox. His hands bore the effects that years of abuse from sun and wind and toil can wreak.
The last time I remember him as a farmer, though, was a night we helped harvest a potato crop. I remember the dark of the twilight, just as the sun went down. I remember the smell of the soil, and the sound of shovels (spades?) hitting the ground as we dug for golden brown nuggets in the dirt. I remember my grandpa’s old, old pickup truck. I have no idea how old I was then, maybe three? I remember my grandpa that night, quiet as always, almost distant, yet smiling and sure.
What nostalgia this is, to recall my grandpa!! To remember the man whom I think now I knew so little about, but such a man made a remarkable impact on me, or so my heart and memories tell me.
He was always willing to sit with me, to take a walk in the countryside, to check out the fishies in the stream down the gravel road from the farmhouse. He was willing to throw a rock or two in the water, “but not too many, now, Tom, or we may create a small dam, and cause a little flood.” Such gentle words he used, and his way was so tender with me. Again, the word “quiet” draws me to his memory, always he was very quiet.
His smile was ever on his face, this man who worked all of his life with his hands. He never pushed me away, or told me he didn’t have time right now. When I knew him, he had nothing but time, and he was always willing to share it.
You know, I am trying to raise my daughter just like that, to be willing, to have time, and to be able and willing to share it. It breaks my heart to see so many children with both of their parents living in the same house, yet neither of them having much time for their child. Lord God, what have we done to our children?
When my daughter has children, if she has children, I want them to know they can feel safe when they are with me. I want them to know I am approachable, and that I am willing, that I will never say, “I don’t have time for you, maybe later.” I want them to look at the hands of a carpenter, to see the toil, the scars, the skin, and to know this rough man has a soft side, too, one that he shows to any who want to see it, especially children. I want them to see me as an elder, but also as a friend, a secret keeper, a man who will never betray them, who will only always have time, and love for them.
I want to remember my grandpa as I am with them, and remember what I was like when my grandpa walked with me, hand in hand, his large, rough hand, gently leading my small soft hand, which was barely big enough to grasp his thumb. Just two of God’s children walking hand in hand, together, one old, and one new.
I have seen my Father in Heaven. He showed up in the face of my grandpa, so many years ago.