A few weeks ago my dad and I visited my Grandpa and Grandma Renes at their house in Sioux Center. I gave a hug to my grandma, who offered me goulash, and then a hug to my grandpa, who reached up for a bear hug from his wheelchair.
His leg was shorter than the last time I saw him. A month before he had an amputation after years of troubles with his ankle.
Before I had the chance to ask how he was doing after such a major surgery, he brought up my blog.
My grandpa has always been a faithful supporter of this little blog. He liked joking about David not liking leftovers and would bring up what I was posting each time I saw him.
This time he said he loved how excited David and I seemed in the post about our Black Hills trip. “You young guys have so much excitement,” he said. He loved to see us so happy and joyful. His comment made me smile. It was a nice thing to say and a sweet reminder that he checked in to read my blog. Just another way he showed his love to one of many grandchildren.
My grandpa lived his life with so much love and joy, it practically beamed from his red cheeks and big smile.
He passed away on Saturday. It was unexpected, and we have been so sad to lose him. At the same time, we are incredibly grateful when thinking about all the ways he influenced our lives.
It has been an emotional time. We will miss Grandpa so much and that painful sadness still makes my chest heavy and my eyes teary. But that same heavy heart floods with gratitude for the life Grandpa lead.
Overall, I feel blessed by his example and the things he taught me.
I can learn so much from Grandpa’s light-hearted attitude. He taught me that there’s always a joke to share, a song to sing, and a smile to give.
Grandpa taught me that bear hugs are better than regular hugs.
Grandpa taught me to show up for those you care about. Grandpa and Grandma would show up faithfully for all of our concerts, graduations, and other celebrations. They hosted big and somewhat boisterous Renes holidays and welcomed anyone who might want to join.
Grandpa taught me to be a part of the church, pray at meal-times, and live your life for Christ. He also taught me that your favorite hymns can be sung any time and any place, not just in church.
Grandpa taught me there’s no such thing as too many sno-cones. I remember looking forward to the Sioux County Fair because Grandpa would always buy us sno-cones. I think he liked buying them for us almost as much as we liked eating them.
Grandpa taught me to be generously kind to those around you, in big and small ways. This tender-hearted kindness is something that he passed along to my dad, which makes me thankful everyday.
Grandpa was a strong and joyful presence in our lives. We will be thanking God for his wonderful life for years to come and humbly trying to follow his example.
My heart is still heavy but it is full of joy because I know Grandpa is fully healed in heaven, and singing his heart out.