Tuesday, September 20, 2011

That Kind of a Man


My grandfather just passed away, passed from this life into his eternal one.  The last week and few days have been a blur.  Shock, grief, rejoicing, more shock, numbness, grief, the emotions are in the rock tumbler and are being turned quite quickly.  As a result, much of the actual funerary proceedings, the viewing, funeral service, graveside service, and dinner; are more like short snippets of moments in my mind.  Some things are extraordinarily clear while others are just as if time passed in a fog. 

However, there was a moment at the viewing that did stand out and continues to.  Grandpa struggled with depression and anxiety for years, an illness that is as harmful as a cancer in its own way.  But, unlike cancer, you cannot see depression or anxiety, only the effects of them.  So, what was seen was a man struggling with life, facing each day with terrors of terror, exhaustion, and being jailed by his own mind.  If you have never felt such a thing, even its mildest form, I praise God.  But, I also urge you to be judicious in your judgments, because unless you have stepped in that to some degree, you have no idea what it is like. 

At the viewing, I remember to gentleman coming in, in their paramedic uniforms.  I greeted them, thanking them for coming and asked if they had been there after grandpa had passed away.  They told me no.  One had been a mechanic prior to being a paramedic and had known grandpa through that.  The other, well he had been at the house in the 1990s and early 2000s when there were many squad runs.  This man saw my grandpa in the clutches of the disease of depression.  He saw him when he was ill.  He saw him when he was certainly not his best.  And this man came to pay his respects.  I must have looked a bit dumb founded and overwhelmed, because he looked me in the eye and said, “He was a good man.” 

A good man in the most terrible of times, in times when he wasn’t sure he could go on.  He was a good man.  That impacted me.  That struck me as a psychological imprint that is indelible.  A good man in the hard things, not just the easy things and when times are good, but when times are bad.  I thank God that this paramedic has the eyes to see something beyond the immediacy of his work, his patient.  I thank God for a man that has compassion on his patients, that can see beyond the illness to the person.  That is also a good man.  Yes, grandpa – you were a good man in even the hard things.