The Man Love Raised: A Thankful Tuesday post

Pawpaw and my brother (Big Brooks) at their shared birthday party last month

Last night, my 89-year-old grandfather fell and hit his head and broke his hip. I got a text from my dad while my boys were in the bath. Time after time, I’ve thought we might lose him. Last year at this time, I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and trying to make plans for how I’d fly home to Amarillo from San Francisco if I was needed. He recovered. He has always recovered.

This past year, though, he’s folded deeper and deeper into the shadow of age. He can barely walk and he is mostly unaware of his world. My Pawpaw has always been the kind who fiddles with his hands, who whistles a tune. The jokester. The story-teller. And I’ve been so grateful to discover that as age has taken his mind, his sense of humor and general love for people and life has remained. Who cares if he has no idea who the people are at the family birthday party? He’s just happy with cake and he’s happy with the song in his head and all those smiling people sitting beside him at the table.

His mother’s name was Love. Isn’t that the dearest? Sometimes when I see his joy I think, Oh, he was raised by Love.

How could I wash those fresh little boy bodies and imagine my grandfather’s aged skin, his pain and his blood and his ride in the ambulance? How to hold both of those things at once?

I’ve sensed in myself lately a longing to remove any painful situation from my head, to extract it the way Dumbledore pulled those threads of memory from his mind and left them in the pensieve. In moments when someone I love is hurting, my temptation is to sift it out of my mind and save it for later, to focus completely on what’s in front of me. When my boys are splashing in the tub and giggling at each other, how can I enter into my grandfather’s suffering? How can picture him in the emergency room, my grandmother (his wife of 68 years) beside him, her lips tensed with knowing?

I zipped my baby into his footsie pjs and sat in the rocking chair in the dark, nursing him before bed. I said to God, Let me think of him, know that he suffers. Don’t allow me to forget his need. I prayed for whatever Pawpaw felt in that moment, for joy, for a sense of comfort from his family around him, for God’s good presence (like Lucy’s face in Aslan’s fur).

And when I lay my baby down in his bed, his eyes already closed, his body curled around his blanket on his side, I lifted my hands: one over his crib and the other toward my older boy’s room across the hall and I prayed, picturing their faces lined with age: the 89-year-old August, the 86-year-old Brooks surrounded by the people they loved with their lives. Oh, and I prayed for all the fullness of an ending for them. The kind without regrets, the kind with music and laughter and touch and families who love them.

It’s a strange thing to see your babies as old men nearing death. But they were the best kind of old men, like my grandfather: laughing from his gut, smiling with his vacant eyes. Lord, let them be the best kind…

It’s Thankful Tuesday. I’m thankful for age and worn skin, a deep lines of wisdom in the brain. I’m thankful for my family, for the present joy and for the future hope.

I’m thankful that all is grace, even the end. Especially the end.


Filed under Thankful Tuesday

14 responses to “The Man Love Raised: A Thankful Tuesday post

  1. Sue Howell

    Micah, your sweet words in tribute to your grandfather are truly beautiful. I’m so sorry that you and all your sweet family are hurting through this, but I’m praying that the sure knowledge that he is truly in LOVE’s hands brings much comfort. Praying for him, you, and all the Boyett family. Love you!

  2. Jody F

    Your words touched me… you praying for your children in their old age. I’ve often felt my life’s blessings were built on the prayers of my grandparents and other family members who are no longer here but prayed for me as a child. Not that God is influenced to bring only good to those who pray or who are prayed over, but prayers do have power. May your prayers be answered for your boys and your grandfather in wonderful ways!

  3. Haley

    Blubbering like a baby over here.

    My grandpa died in October and this tension still holds me — my soft-skinned boys just beginning life and me longing for a moment’s peace, my grandfather’s aged body gone and buried and my grandmother alone in a silent home. Sometimes the world feels too strange to live in doesn’t it?

    • Yes, yes, so strange. I’m grateful you connected with tension of it. I know we’re not supposed to get used to death but sometimes the reality of it is so shocking and feels so unnatural (even though it’s one of the most natural things about life, right?)…

  4. Wow, Micah. That’s all I can say is,”Wow”. Beautiful, inspiring, thoughtful. Miss you guys! LOVE the blog! 🙂

  5. Jamie

    Micah, I’ve never been here before, but I’ve been reading a few of your posts today, and just had to comment on this one. What a beautiful picture, you praying for your boys as old men. My grandpa, the dearest man to my heart after my husband, passed away two years ago this month. I still cry for him, he loved me and my grandma and Jesus with great joy, he was such a laugher. I hope my boys can grow into his shoes. What love you show your pawpaw, praying for him as you nurse your babies. This mothering, holy work.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Oh, my. This cuts close to the bone just now. My mom and my MIL are both slipping away to dementia/memory loss and increasingly frail. Such beautiful women, so nearly gone. This is a truly beautiful tribute, Micha – one of my very favorite of all the ‘thankful’ posts there are out there in cyberland these days. The tension between newness and oldness, the longing for release from this earthly vail, yet wanting to cling, to remain physically connected. Yeah, I get that. Totally. Thank you for this.

  7. Pingback: Worth Reading « Thin Places-Faith, Family and Disability

  8. Pingback: A Very Valentine-y Thankful Tuesday | mama:monk

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