At 36 years of age, I know that I am very blessed to have had all four of my grandparents around most of my life. But we all get older, and we all have to face the realization that life on this earth is only temporary.
I lost my paternal grandfather, L. R. Shelton, Jr., in January of 2003. On Sunday, October 8, my maternal grandfather, George M. Robertson--"Papaw," as we called him--passed away. He was 89 years old.
Some of my fondest memories of Papaw are from my childhood, when our family would travel from Fort Smith, Ark., to my grandparents' home in Picayune, Miss. It's amazing all of the little things I remember from those visits: the fragrance of pine trees in the air, the feel of the sandy soil between my bare toes, the smell of my grandparents' house and Papaw's cologne, the jagged pattern of the floor tiles. I recall the giant stereo console in the living room on which we played countless records and the multi-colored fiber optic lamp that kept us entertained for hours.
Field trips were standard. Whether it was going on walks to pick wild berries, trying to catch something in a nearby fishing hole, visiting a train museum or driving down to the Gulf, we always did things as a family.
But the best part of our visits was at night. Often we would gather together to watch 8mm home movies Papaw and other members of the family had made. As the silent images danced on the screen, we would snack on treats like fried okra and Papaw's world-famous, homemade peach ice cream. Those memories--and many more--are ones I will always cherish.
Papaw was a kind, gentle, Godly man who was always willing to give of himself. I never knew him to be selfish, and I never heard him speak a harsh word. Of course, he helped raise my mother to be the person she is today, and for that I am thankful.
It is always difficult to say goodbye, but as believers in Christ we know that all the joys and fond memories of this life are nothing compared to spending eternity in Heaven. Pain and suffering have no place there, and death will be a thing of the past. Our salvation will be fully realized as we leave behind this fragile existence and put on incorruptible, glorified bodies that will never know the ravages of time.
And therein lies the hope all Christians share. Yes, times like these cause us to reflect on the lives of the ones we have lost, but we rejoice in anticipation of the day when we will all be reunited in Glory in the presence of our Savior and Lord.