Seven years ago this was a common view. Seven years ago my Grandpa Marlowe was living in a wonderful little nursing home in the town of Spring Valley, Wisconsin. Seven years ago I would drive, or ride, past this little creek once or twice a week to visit my grandpa, who was fighting Alzheimer’s Disease.
We didn’t want my grandpa to be there. We didn’t want him to be sick. We didn’t want him and grandma to be separated. We didn’t want this horrible disease to win. It didn’t.
Seven years ago today Grandpa Marlowe passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease. But the disease didn’t win. It didn’t win because it didn’t take my grandpa’s joy. Grandpa was one of the happiest residents in the nursing home and everyone loved him. They called him The Railroad Man because he was always belting out the song “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”
His whole life grandpa was known for his fantastic laugh. It was loud and full and he held nothing back. What joy we all took in grandpa’s laugh! The disease didn’t take his joy, or his laughter. He brought happiness to so many others at the nursing home because of his laugh, a laugh that spread through the sterile walls and into the hearts of lonely people.
Alzheimer’s Disease didn’t win. Yes, it took his memories. Yes, he thought the stuffed dog on his lap that looked like our family bulldog, Quigley, was real. Yes, he pet, talked to, and fed stuffed Quigley. Yes, he would think he was somewhere he wasn’t, an age he wasn’t, doing things he couldn’t do anymore.
But miraculously, the disease didn’t take all of his memories. He always knew grandma. He always knew she was his wife and that he loved her. That was a gift. He always knew me when I visited. Yes, sometimes it took a few minutes of talking before I saw his eyes twinkle with recognition, but they always did. That was a gift I will forever be thankful for. He recognized others too, and that’s something they will always treasure.
I have great memories of those times with grandpa. In fact, those were some of the most special and memorable times we had together, him and I. There was the day I got there and he told me all about the little brown hen he had spent the day chasing up and down the hill outside his window. My dad, Randy, had helped him, but they never caught the little bugger! As he told me about the little brown hen we “watched” it running up and down the hill. That little guy was fast! 😉
Even though grandpa couldn’t remember if I was married, he would always ask. When I told him no, he would ask me how the boys were treating me. He would clench his fist, grab my hand tight, and tell me that if they weren’t nice to me I had to let him know and he would give them a fistful of knuckles. He would have too!
He would sit next to grandma at the table and when a worker would ask who she was, he’d reach over and grab her hand. “Well, this here’s my wife!” he’d proudly tell them. “You know, I had to go all the way to North Dakota to find her!” His eyes would sparkle and he’d laugh and sometimes wink at grandma, making her blush in delight.
Yes, Alzheimer’s Disease may have taken my grandpa from us seven years ago, but it didn’t win. Grandpa won the day he met Jesus face to face and entered His rest.
I can see it all now. Jesus hugged grandpa tight and whispered in his ear, “Marlowe, you’re not going to believe this, but in seven years the Cubs are going to win the World Series!” And grandpa laughed and laughed and said, “Well, we gotta have a little fun every now and then, don’t we Jesus?!”
Seven years ago I pulled over on the way to visit grandpa and took a photograph of a little piece of heaven on the side of the road. A place of beauty that reminded me that this world is more than the things we can see with our eyes. May you find beauty today that reminds you of your Maker and His love for you.
And that, my friends, is the story of how I captured The Roadside Gem. (Click to Tweet!)
Until next time,