A glorious, glorious life
My grandfather died yesterday.
If only I could convey to you what that means to me. What it means that Bob Balkam, deeply loving and dearly beloved husband of 76 years and father of eight children and grandfather of 22, my cousins and sister and me, has left this earth. My heart has broken open.
I could tell you about how he lived a full, 97-year-long life, with its fair share of joys and sorrows. I could tell you about his love for a captive audience, about his booming voice and energetic smile and commanding presence. About the way he’d grip my neck and hold me close, locking his eyes with mine, and tell me he loved me. About how he was fondly known as “the mayor of the seventh floor” in his retirement community, how everyone—the whole building, it seemed—knew and respected and loved Bob. About the way he loved my grandmother, laid down his life for her, showered her with affection even when she didn’t know his name. About my visit with him that I knew would be my last, when we held hands and sang songs and soaked up each other’s love.
But it wouldn’t be enough.
I loved him so. He taught me to love. And I thank God for the immeasurable gift that was his long life, and for the even greater gift of the new life he has just begun, the life that is not of this world. The life that I long for. I mourn for myself, and I rejoice for him. In his last days and weeks, it was as if he was touching heaven, and pointing us there, too.
One day, we’ll meet again.
The title of this post comes from Granddad himself, in an interview he gave here on the occasion of his 75th wedding anniversary to Grandmom. It captures much better than I can his great faithfulness, love, and joy.