My grandfather has had many health problems this year and it has been hard to see him suffer so. But he loves the chaos on Christmas Eve, and so even though he was feeling unwell, he did not want to miss out on the Christmas Eve celebration. He sat in a chair and chuckled at the antics of his eight great-grandchildren for a while and then went home early.
Christmas day arrived and it was time for celebration number two. My grandmother had been in so much pain from gall stones and shingles, but she rallied in order to celebrate Christmas with us. The day was full of laughter and music. All twenty-three of us sang Christmas carols around the piano and it brought such joy to her.
The next morning, I found myself visiting both my grandfather and grandmother in the hospital. My grandpa had gone into the hospital with terribly low blood pressure and kidney failure and my grandma needed surgery to remove her gall bladder. Weak and thin and diminished they seemed to me and yet they were both so courteous and brave. My parents and I prayed for them and stroked their hair and plumped their pillows.
Celebration number three was that afternoon at my aunt’s house. After dinner, my uncle played a DVD he had made from old movie reels from the 1960’s. For the first time in my life, I saw video of my mother before I was born. There was no sound and the picture quality certainly wasn’t high definition. My grandparents were married to each other then, and it was such a joy to see them laughing and enjoying their five children. In one clip, my mama was about five, being shepherded into a row boat with my grandpa, and she was wearing a skirt and bobby socks and he was wearing a summer suit and tie – a glimpse of that time when people were elegant and nicely dressed even on vacation. Part of the delight of the whole thing was that even though almost 50 years had passed, all the mannerisms of my family were there. I knew those people – their shrugs, smirks and smiles in babyhood are still the same today.
Such juxtaposition. I wonder how God sees us. Does He see us all our days overlapped? Psalms tells us that He knew us in our mother’s womb and that He perceives our comings and goings. Even our death is precious in his sight. We are so caught up in linear time, but our Father knows us intimately when we are innocent children, awkward adolescents, and struggling and maturing adults. Most comforting of all, He knows us when our human bodies become a shell we need to shrug off so that we can know Him more fully.Tonight, my precious grandfather is septic with an infection and delirious. All I can do is hope and pray. And trust that what the Psalms speak of is true, that all our days are ordained for us and we are precious, precious, precious to Him.