“Take your vitaminas” was probably the most common phrase I remember coming out of my grandfather’s bearded mouth. “Vitaminas” instead of “vitamins” because he spent a good portion of his life pioneering geology in South America with his young family.
I remember sitting around listening to my family tell stories of the crazy things he did, like stealing his jeep back from Colombian drug lords. He seemed so well traveled, Africa, Europe, South America, places I never thought I would get the chance to go. I remember sitting on the floor of the living room, watching “Nature” on PBS with him and having a burning in my soul to go see those places.
He would take us on walks with his hat with feathers in it around the lake with the old black lab Dinkum and point out all of the wildlife, loons, eagles, foxes and it made the outskirts of Denver feel wild and alive. He was always bringing home “junk” that he had found on the side of the road because it still had use and he could use it to bring to people at the Homeless shelter where he volunteered.
I remember the bright, orange poppies in the front yard that he so dearly loved and I remember the last time I saw him, my grandfather at my uncle’s new house in Colorado. Sitting at his feet I remember feeling that this time felt different, this time I should really listen closely to the stories he told.
When I found out he died I was in shock and I was walking to my car collapsing in tears, surprised by my own grief. He went out with a bang, hiking without his oxygen tank, so typical of what a Tschanz would do.
I miss my Grandpa and I miss the stories he told. I think if I would have asked he would have told me a little more about the human condition and why life is really hard sometimes.
I wish he could have told me a a little bit more about how he was broken too, that he realized this and it felt suffocating at times. But that he always found unending love and grace in Jesus. I wish I could have heard more because he was a man I admired who did amazing kingdom things, but who was also broken at times and that was ok.
I think in the end no one remembers the ugly moments, they’re pushed out by an all-consuming love and it is all you can taste and feel and hear. It’s a painful love, one of great longing for that person who brightened your life even on their worst days simply by being alive.
And I think in that, in understanding that and feeling that and breathing that, I can give myself a lot more grace for my ugly days that I walk through today. Because in the end it is all about God’s all-consuming love and I have it.
It gives me permission to be myself on my best days and my worst and it pushes me to be just like my grandfather’s favorite flower, the poppy, bright and bold and always, always, always reaching for the sun.