Keeping Memories

Keep God's word hidden in your heart. via @blestbutstrestI keep the memory of the last visit with my grandpa tucked deep in my heart. The day before I headed back to college for my junior year I tiptoed into the front bedroom where my parents had set up a hospital bed and hospice nurses had brought in the accouterments of life and sat in a chair next to his bed.

Cautiously, I reached out and took his once-strong hand in mine. I didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t really spoken for days, and everyone knew the end would come soon. The years of fighting mesothelioma had taken their toll on the man who used to put stars in the ceiling (that’s what I thought when I was little, because Grandpa plastered for a living, and his added sparkles to the ceiling plaster in the house they lived in when I was small).

I didn’t know what to say—it felt as if I’d already said everything but yet I’d said nothing. I knew Grandpa loved Jesus. I didn’t know how to comfort him or even if he knew that I was there. I did know that I felt woefully unprepared to face mortality.

Suddenly, Grandpa moved his head back and forth, words working their way to the surface. “I can still sing to Jesus,” he said.

Tears choked off my throat, so I settled for a gentle pat on his almost transparent hand. Those were the last words I ever heard him speak. He passed away shortly after I returned to college.

But I keep his words as a standard for how to live and how to die. I strive to live my life so that when my time comes, all that’s left are thoughts of Jesus, singing and glory. After all, those are the only memories that matter.

At the end of my life I want to be filled with thoughts of Jesus, singing and glory. Nothing else matters. Click To Tweet

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • This is beautiful. So sad, but so beautiful. And what wonderful last words for you to hear…they won’t ever stop impacting you.
    Jen Daugherty recently posted…Keep Sight on the Important ThingsMy Profile

    • :). Storing up Jesus in our hearts through songs and memorizing the Bible will change us and influence us in every epoch of our lives.

  • This is just so powerful and beautiful. “I can still sing to Jesus.” Yes and amen.
    Marie recently posted…Five Minute Friday: KeepMy Profile

    • Thank you for stopping by! Keep on singing!

  • A beautiful memory! <3

    visiting from FMF — Sarah Jo
    Sarah Jo recently posted…Keep…My Profile

  • What a beautiful post, Anita. And those words? What great ones to hold onto. Reading your post reminded me of my last time with my grandpa. Singing over an unconscious him in the hospital a few weeks before he died. Praying like crazy he would embrace Jesus before he met Him face to face. I believe he did bow the knee before he took his last breath here and his first one in heaven. But, what a legacy you have been given. So glad you shared this today.
    Jeanne Takenaka recently posted…Weakness: Act Strong or Ask For Help?My Profile

    • I’m so glad you had the opportunity to sing over your grandpa and help him know the love of our Savior. Thank you for sharing that with me!

  • What a beautiful lesson to learn from your grandpa. Heart wrenching but heartwarming all at the same time if that’s possible… thank you so much for sharing! This has certainly touched my heart. Blessings to you my friend.
    Shannon Bibby recently posted…RefugeMy Profile

  • Oh my goodness, you made me cry (torrents). I just posted about the things that give me hope and your recounting of your Grandpa’s words “I can still sing to Jesus” fair entered my heart like a deeply comforting, yet jolting, blow. Amazing. They hit me like a physical sensation. Thank you so, so much. [I so needed to read your words today]. I can tell you, he certainly built some stairs for me today. [Your FMF friend; my post here }

    • I’m so glad my words could bring you hope and ‘build some stairs’ for you today. May God hold you close.

  • What precious words to keep. Thanks for sharing that sweet moment. That’s what I want too, to still sing to Jesus.
    Debby recently posted…Five-Minute Friday {keep}My Profile

    • Amen–sing now and sing to the end! And then in heaven, I’ll get a new voice that will sound good, too ;).

  • This is truly a beautiful post, Anita. And I love the quote. I almost want to just write that one down and tape it up on my mirror to look at first thing in the morning. When I’m not looking forward to the life changes that are coming my way. To the valley I continue to walk through. To the sleep deprivation I just experienced… I can see that quote and remember that I can “still sing to Jesus.”

    Bless you for this. I loved it!
    Jennifer Frisbie recently posted…Five Minute Friday: KeepMy Profile

    • Oh, friend, keep singing–no matter how dark the valley or how few the hours of sleep. May your songs lighten your way and bring you the peace that passes all understanding during this difficult time in your life.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Just Keep SwimmingMy Profile

  • A few years ago a man in our church was diagnosed with lung cancer. One of the first things he asked his doctor was, “Will I still be able to sing? I’ve got to be able to praise the Lord!” Months later he passed away, but I’m confident that he’s been singing and praising God since he got to heaven!
    Melissa recently posted…Burning Down the House – Five Minute FridayMy Profile

  • Yes, yes. Even when we don’t have the strength to utter the words aloud, we can still sing to Jesus.

    What a meaningful post today, Anita. Wow. Praise God!
    Linda@Creekside recently posted…Teaming Up with Sheila * Party Giveaway #1 WinnerMy Profile

    • I do a lot of singing in my heart (or in the shower, or when I’m riding motorcycles) because my voice doesn’t often cooperate with the melody in my head ;).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Just Keep SwimmingMy Profile

  • what a beautiful story! I was with my grandfather and mother both when they home to Jesus. It was a beautiful and touching moment. It inspired me as well to keep my faith all the way to the end knowing He comes to take them home.
    I am glad you have those words to carry with you. What sweet final words to hold onto

    Thank you for sharing your story with us!
    Rachel Quigley recently posted…Keeping my Head ~ Five Minute FridayMy Profile

    • I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandfather and mother, Rachel–but how wonderful that their passing inspired you to keep your faith–now that’s a testimony!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Just Keep SwimmingMy Profile

  • i love your story anita:) (i think you meant he put stars in the ceiling?) so touching. brings back memories of many of my loved ones who have gone on ahead of me. sadly, i didn’t get to have the good-bye moments with any of them, either because of the suddenness of their deaths or their unconsciousness. it is a mixed blessing i know because of the lingering illness.

    but the reminder is so important and comforting.
    martha brady recently posted…KEEP A PROMISE, KEEP A PEOPLE…My Profile

    • Thanks for catching the error, Martha! I’m sorry you didn’t have goodbye moments with your loved ones. I missed that with all of my other grandparents.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Just Keep SwimmingMy Profile

  • Grandpa was right. Nothing else really matters! xo
    Susan Shipe recently posted…five minute friday: keepMy Profile

  • The man who put stars in the ceiling! I love that. What a precious memory, although bitter sweet I’m sure. I wish I had a grandparent like that in my life.
    Messy Mom recently posted…Frugal Valentine IdeasMy Profile

    • Aw, I wish you had a grandparent like that, too! I’d share my parents with you–they’re pretty awesome grandparent types :).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Just Keep SwimmingMy Profile

  • What sweet memories to cherish and keep in your heart. And what a legacy of faith for your grandfather to pass on.
    Laura recently posted….family photos.My Profile

    • I’m so fortunate to come from a family with a legacy of faith to pass down to future generations.
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Just Keep SwimmingMy Profile

  • Such a touching, beautiful memory to cherish. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Jennifer recently posted…Keep (Five Minute Friday)My Profile

  • Such a beautiful and powerful memory. Thanks for sharing.
    Amy P Boyd recently posted…Learning in the WaitMy Profile

  • So beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
    visiting from five minute friday

  • Tara

    I keep those memories (of my Grandma and Grandpa) close to my heart too. This is such a sweet post!

    • :). Grandparents are wonderful, aren’t they!? I’m so glad that our girls have had lots of opportunities to get to know their grandparents.

  • “I can still sing to Jesus.” Beautiful, friend. I feel like you shared a treasure here, and I’m honored to be a recipient of it. Thank you. Keep sharing those precious memories.
    Julie Lefebure recently posted…Five Minute Friday – KeepMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by, Julie :). May ‘singing to Jesus’ be the one constant in our lives on a daily basis!

  • Oh my goodness, what a beautiful story. I love that your grandpa put stars in the ceiling! And I too pray that I’ll live so that death comes only with thoughts of singing my way home. Thanks for sharing.
    Colleen Mitchell recently posted…Morning Run: Come CloserMy Profile

    • Thank you, my friend. I”m sure you’ll be singing!

  • An amazing story. Reminds me that whatever our circumstances are we can keep singing to Jesus. He is always there and His truth is never ending. The last time I saw my grandpa he gave me money for a fundraiser early. It was like he knew he wouldn’t be around. I was in 6th grade. I still can’t believe he was gone so quickly.
    Amanda recently posted…I’d Keep You SmallMy Profile

    • Oh, wow. I’m sorry for your loss–even though it was a long time ago, it still hurts at times.

  • Oh man, that gets me. What a beautiful thought. I have been SO CONVICTED this week that I have made this world my home when it really isn’t. When the end is near I hope I am still able to sing to Jesus.
    Melissa recently posted…Should Christians Watch 50 Shades of Grey?My Profile

  • Wow. I love this–the things you never realize your parents witnessed (like losing their beloved grandparents), when you’re a kid. Was this Mormor’s dad, or Poppy’s? Beautiful story, and even more beautiful last words to hear a man speak.
    Laura recently posted…Five Tips On Getting Things DoneMy Profile

  • What a great story you told us and also is kept in your hear!!! Wonderful lesson from your grandpa.

  • A lesson well passed on!
    I love how beautifully you narrated this. I could picture it in my head and your very-wise grandfather.

    You FMF friend,
    Tanya Anurag recently posted…How They KEEP…My Profile

  • Natalie Busch

    Thanks for sharing this intimate part of your life. Beautiful story.