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“Grandpa,” Friend, Jan. 1982, 46


Lisa stood in the doorway of Grandpa’s bedroom. She wanted to talk to him, but he was sound asleep. There was so much to say and so little time. Grandpa couldn’t even get out of bed now.

“I’ll be thankful if I get to see another crocus,” he had said. Those words brought back vividly all the hurt and pain she had felt when Keekee, her pet hamster, died.

Lisa hurried out of the house and went directly to the far end of the garden where Keekee was buried. Since it was mid-January, the plants were bare. Not a leaf or bud anywhere. She and Grandpa had put Keekee to rest between the red rose bushes. She swallowed hard, remembering it all.

“I won’t ever see Keekee again,” she had cried.

“Death isn’t forever, Lisa,” Grandpa comforted.

After Grandpa talked to her, some of the pain seemed to ease.

“By loving Keekee,” he said, “he will always live in your heart. All else can fade away but love is forever.”

They stood beside the grave. “What would you like to say on the marker?” Grandpa had asked.

Lisa hesitated. “Name and dates, I guess.”

“Don’t be ashamed to say what’s in your heart,” encouraged Grandpa.

Lisa looked into Grandpa’s warm brown eyes, then down at the ground. “I love you, Keekee …” she whispered.

Grandpa smiled. “Each time you read those words, Lisa, your memory of Keekee will come alive. Dying is a fact of life. One day we all must go away for a while.”

“Will that happen to you, too, Grandpa?”

“Yes, Lisa, but you must remember that separation is not a final thing and that someday we’ll all be together again.”

Now it is Grandpa’s turn to go, Lisa thought sadly. All the pain of parting came back again. Once more she looked over the garden. Every year she and Grandpa had planted bulbs along both sides of the walkway but now Grandpa was too ill. She remembered how one by one she had handed Grandpa the crocus bulbs and watched him place them into freshly dug holes. Then he covered them gently, almost with a prayer.

Lisa went back to Grandpa’s room. He seemed to still be asleep but then he opened his eyes. “Is that you, Lisa?” he asked.

“Yes, Grandpa, is there anything I can do for you? Anything you want?”

“Just sit and talk to me,” he said, taking her hand.

“The garden misses you, Grandpa. We don’t want you to go.”

“It will only be for a little while. In Heavenly Father’s time it will only be like a winter away. Plants sleep during the winter and wake up in the spring. So it is with people. We are parted for a while and come together again in a world where there is no more separation.”

Grandpa’s hand became limp and he fell asleep.

Lisa went out into the garden again.

“Grandpa loves you,” she spoke to the lilac tree and the rosebushes as though they could understand. “If you could give him a flower, it would make him so happy.” But only the silence and the cold wind answered her. Every day after that, Lisa carefully examined each plant, but there wasn’t even a sign of a swollen node.

Mother had asked Lisa to help in preparing the house for company who would want to visit with Grandpa. “Friends and relatives will come to see Grandpa often,” she said, “and you must keep the porch and steps clean.”

Many people did come to see Grandpa, and each day he seemed to sleep a little longer. Sometimes he didn’t know Lisa was there beside him. One day as she was sweeping the porch, the pain of losing Grandpa seemed to grow so big within Lisa that she thought it would burst. She began to cry. The broom slipped from her hand and fell beside the steps. As she stooped to pick it up, something caught her eye. It was half-hidden under the porch and behind the steps. She got on her knees and could hardly believe what she saw. In a sheltered place, well-protected from the wind and cold, was a purple crocus poking up from the dark earth. Although it was still winter, a flower had been born.

Lisa rushed to Grandpa’s bedroom where he lay sleeping. “Please wake up, Grandpa, and see what I found!” she cried. But Grandpa didn’t stir. Lisa waited and waited. She was about to leave the room when Grandpa opened his eyes.

“Look, Grandpa. Look what I have for you!” Lisa said softly.

“A crocus,” he whispered. “How wonderful!” He took the flower and held it to his face. “Where did you find it, Lisa? We took up all the bulbs last fall.”

“I guess we missed this one. It was in the corner by the steps.”

Grandpa smiled. “Lisa, did I ever tell you the story about the tree that began to sprout leaves in the winter? At the time, people called it a miracle. It brought new hope to many who needed it. Later it was discovered that a steam pipe near the tree had a leak and the warmth made the tree think it was spring—time to wake up and time to show its leaves. People talked about it for months afterward. Many felt it was a message from God, telling them that they should never despair.”

Lisa sat quietly thinking about the miracle tree. She looked down at Grandpa, who had fallen asleep again, the crocus still in his hand. Lisa stood beside the bed for a long time. Slowly some of the pain she felt began to ease. Grandpa’s going away didn’t hurt quite as much now. She knew that one day they would be together again.

“I love you, Grandpa,” she whispered, recalling his words, All else can fade away but love is forever.

Illustrated by Dick Brown