"Crossing the Bar"

Our December was not a picture perfect Norman Rockwell that culminated in a beautiful Christmas day. We started off the month doing events every day of the first week. It was exhausting but fun. The next Tuesday, Mr. Incredible went off on a last minute work/play trip with his friend. The day after he left, the kids and I went up to visit family because my grandfather was in the hospital and not doing well. I got one of those nudges from God that I needed to go visit, and who am I to argue with God? We came back Thursday, went to lunch with a friend on Friday, and got hit with the flu on Friday afternoon. Yes, the flu really does hit suddenly. I was walking in Target with the kids when IT hit. I was suddenly hot and kind of light headed. We got out as fast as we could, and I stayed in bed for 5 days. The kids subsisted on pizza that I ordered online (Thank GOD for Papa John's, Dominoes', and Pizza Hut's online ordering!) and Christmas candy a friend had given us. Mr. Inc made it home on day 2 of the flu and took over kid responsibilities. Once I was at least functional, our little BBE came down with his own virus and we were housebound for another 3 days. By the time everyone was well, Christmas was only a few days away. We did our Christmas on Christmas Eve, traveled to see family on Christmas Day, and came back home the day after Christmas.  If you expected Christmas cookies from us, you now know why you didn't get anything. All we had to share were germs.

As New Year's Eve got closer, I received more and more phone calls, all with bad reports on my grandfather's health. Finally, on New Year's Eve, I got the call that it would be a matter of hours before he passed. I decided to try to make it in time to see him one last time and was about 10 minutes too late. I spent some time with my family before turning around and driving home. When 2013 began, I was somewhere between Columbia and Orangeburg. That, my friends, is NOT a December I ever want to repeat. It will forever be remembered as the year that dad went on a trip, mom got the flu, and great grandpa died.

I've decided that I'm not counting the first week of January this year. It was spent grieving, shopping for funeral clothes, traveling, and visiting family for the worst reason. I shouldn't grieve too much, because my grandfather was a person closer to God than any other person I've ever met. His friendship with Jesus was completely natural. He was the most gentle and joyful person I've ever known, and I can honestly say I've never met anyone else like him.  Growing up in a small town, everyone knows everybody.  It was a very common thing for someone to walk up to me and ask if I was one of the Smith kids (I must have that look). When I told them yes and who my father was, they'd always say, "Merle Smith's son? Your grandfather is a fine man."  He was a farmer and a builder. He didn't do anything extraordinary, but I'd be honored to live my life as well as he did.  Growing up, our house was nearly directly behind his house. We went to church with my grandparents for half of my childhood. He was the first person to let me drive a car. I confused the brake and gas pedal and shaved a few years off his life, I'm sure. =) I remember him putting his hand over mine and letting me shift the gears on his truck while he drove. He took me on countless tractor rides. He led the singing at our church for years, and I always picture him standing up in front of everyone. He'd have the hymnal open and raised in one hand while his other hand was raised in song. I always remember him singing "Victory in Jesus", and everyone else must too because that was the song we sang at his funeral. It was perfect.
Finally, here is one of his favorite poems. It seems fitting to share here. Then it's on to 2013...

"Crossing the Bar"
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star
   And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
   When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
   Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
   Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
   And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
   When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
   The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
   When I have crossed the bar.


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