“Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations.” Psalms 90:1

Last Thursday (maundy Thursday) my last living grandfather left this Earth. Looking back on his last year of life, grandpa Schmidt used this time to prepare his loved ones for his death. To his wife, three children, and nine grandchildren this man seemed slightly invincible.

We definitely went through scary times with him but he always seemed to make it out just fine. Grandpa Schmidt had six different cancers on his “cancer resume” (as he liked to jokingly call it.) We would joke back and call him one lucky son of a gun but it was more than luck, grandpa was blessed.

This man of God was blessed in so many ways and in turn blessed others. He was blessed to have wonderful, hardworking parents. One of my favorite things has always been hearing stories of the daring Louis and Maude Schmidt. He was blessed to be one of eleven children who were taught hard work growing up on a farm in IL. He was blessed to have a successful business with his brother in Mt. Zion, IL. And what I’m most thankful for, his blessings of my grandma and their three children.

Grandpa meant something different to each and every one of his family members and we were each able to feel like we had our own special connection with him.

This past week I have spent more than my fair share of time in the car. This travel time started with me shouting “please, please Lord let me make it on time” as I raced to be by his side after I got the news that they were ready to “make him comfortable.” Thrown in with these prayers were numerous tears and memories. It is amazing how many memories flood to you when you know you are losing/or have lost someone. Memories of grandpa saying “I have my dancing shoes ready for your wedding” long before I was even dating and then getting to have that dance with him almost ten years ago. Of finding grandpa’s stack of magazines while playing hide and seek. Of grandpa teaching me how to play minesweeper. Of grandpa telling me how great of a memory I had because I could always beat him at the game of memory. Of grandparent-hosted cousin sleep over weeks in the summer. Of pumping water out of the well that used to be in their yard. Of grandpa teaching my sister and I how to shoot a bb gun. Of grandpa eating sardines and pouring salt and pepper on everything. Of all the amazing meals he cooked for us including our annual seafood Christmas Eve dinner. Of grandpa meeting each of his three great grandchildren for the first time. And so many more.

Another blessing was being able to recreate a few of these memories last weekend while being surrounded by family. We all took turns ringing grandpa’s huge bell in the yard, a few unnamed daredevils put pennies on the railroad tracks, and bb guns were fired. Flowers and bows we’re put on the front yard trees to recreate the bows that were placed on those same trees each time one of us grandchildren were born. We even drove by grandpa’s old place of business. So many blessings.

The final blessing grandpa gave to each of us was giving smiles and holding hands. His head leaning into mine when I got to the hospital room and hugged him with grandma saying “Kristin’s here” is a memory I will forever treasure. The smile on his face when Jason jokingly said “you have both of your favorite grandchildren here” as we held his hands. And the prayer we all prayed around him late Wednesday night after all nine of the grandchildren were able to make it back to him to say goodbye. These moments meant so much to me and and I am so thankful for such a great earthly ending to our relationship.  I look forward to meeting again in heaven and being introduced to all of the wonderful Schmidt family members who have gone before me.  

Thank you, grandpa for being such a great and loving role model. I only hope I can continue to make you proud.