this is Dale Stivers, my grandpa, holding my sister's beautiful boy, Miles. my grandpa is an amazing soul and he is very sick. he has been sick most of my life in some way. his first of five heart attacks came at the age of 42 and the last happened at 2:00am the last Christmas we were all together in 1996. his heart has been severely damaged and he has been in "congestive heart failure" since 2001. but his heart has not failed...instead, this July he was diagnosed with cancer. it is somewhere in his liver or pancreas or something like that, we're not really certain. his heart is too weak for any kind of treatment.
my parents, my sister and her husband and son, and robert and i made the trek to southern illinois last weekend to visit my grandparents. this was the first time they had seen Miles and it was such a beautiful moment. i was overwhelmed at the sight of my grandfather holding Miles for the first time. i was keenly aware in that moment that all of us standing in that room were there because of this one man, my grandfather. because of him, we all existed in this time and space together...a family, four generations. he is such a beautiful, gentle man. he told the best stories to all of his grandchildren when we would visit. he took all of us fishing at one time or another. he loves deeply and well, and has always been grieved if he feels he has not represented Christ well. there are many stories that i will share with my children about their great-grandfather. like the time i was told my dad came home too late as a teenager and my grandpa took him out back and told him to choose a switch (to get a "whoopin'" as my dad would call it). after the switch was chosen, my grandpa handed it back to my dad and said "i will take your punishment for you." perhaps it seems dramatic, but that is just how he was - wanting to show grace and mercy. another of my favorite stories is the time my grandpa sold his house in the bathroom. apparently, when he was in the men's restroom at a restaurant, he got into a conversation with a young man that said he was looking for a house in the city where my grandparents lived. so, my grandpa said "i have a house. you can buy mine." the funny thing is, they weren't even discussing selling their home or moving. so, when he told my grandma about it upon returning to the table, she said "where are we going to live?" well, they sold the house and ended up finding a home a few miles away in the next town over. my grandpa is not owned by his possessions and lives simply. i hope i will eventually get there completely.
when he takes his last breath, whether it be in a few months as the doctors have said, a few weeks or years, he will have left an amazing legacy for all of those that came into contact with him. i am so honored to be a part of that legacy.