In February, I spent the last week of my grandfather’s life with my grandmother, mom, sister and aunt. During the time of caring for his last days, I had some time to put some thoughts together about my grandfather’s life. I shared this at his memorial service. Here it is in one page.
John Heider, was my grandpa and grandpa to Erica, Courtney, Drew and Brett. He was father to Sandy, Johnny, Gail and Carol. A father-in-law to Fred, Terry and Dave. A brother to Don and Jim, JoAnn and Susan. And devoted husband to Grandma.
Born in New Jersey, he studied accounting at Syracuse University. He was a part of the Delta Upsilon fraternity. One day, he met Julia Bemis, now who I call grandma. He asked her out on a date on a specific day. She said she had to work that night. He would have to page her at the hospital. He waited two weeks until she was a t the hospital and he paged her. She rode back to her apartment while she was in nursing school in a ’47 Dodge. He gave grandma his fraternity pin for an engagement ring and they began their life together.
They moved to New York, Tennessee, and Indiana while raising a family and moving with Grandpa’s accounting jobs.
I remember when Grandma and Grandpa retired and bought an RV, touring around entire 50 states. Traveling over the mountains with a house on wheels and seeing all the sites.
I remember talking with Grandpa about directions and hearing his calculations on maps on how to drive somewhere. Then, how he would calculate costs for items and share his findings. He was meticulous in the details.
Grandpa loved dogs too. There were many dogs but I remember Cocoa, Charlie, Dudley.
If something broke, he would go in the garage for awhile and figure out something on how to make it work. Whether it was an old car or a boat, he would examine the mechanics and figure out what would work out in the situation. I remember the story that Grandma told when Grandpa was 12 years old. He got a bicycle from his mom and dad. He went into the garage and took the bicycle apart in pieces and then put it back together again because he wanted to see how it works. He would continue to enjoy tinkering, taking his time, and thinking through how things work.
He would watch the news. Often times he would listen in on conversations, and I knew Grandpa was listening when he would have a sly smile or smirking look. He would have something to say or think about it, often things I would never know.
He would sit at the head of the table for meals. He would sit at breakfast, read the paper and drink his coffee. Grandma never had want for anything. She would say it was nice and he would get it for her.
Grandpa enjoyed working. After retirement, he worked at Home Depot for 15 years. He stopped working at age 87.
One of the first Scriptures I shared with him, was my sister and I shared from John 14. Both grandpa and my son, sharing the same name with this Scripture writer. In John 14: “Jesus goes to prepare a place to us. A place with many rooms. Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Trust in me and do not be afraid.”
The last words I said to Grandpa was a Scripture from Numbers, and I say again today, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Will you pray with me?
Gracious God, you are the beginning and the end. You breathed into us the breath of life. We return Grandpa to you. He took care of us and now he rests from his labor. He now cares for us in a different way, in a new body and a new way. Help us who grieve to cast all our cares upon you. Amen.