What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Storyteller

My Opa, the storyteller.

In his rich, Dutch accent stories would flow from his lips like raindrops from a thundercloud. His lips spun webs of words, ensnaring us children and wrapping us in intrigue. A complex imagination, made moreso by the complexities of real life.

He was a Resistance worker in the German-occupied Netherlands during World War II.

He found solace and safety amongst the pipes of the church organ as he was sought after. For years.

He was a husband and provider in a little house in the middle of the forest.

He was a reveler in church history.

He was a towering husband to a petal of a girl, a girl who stood over his cradle as a toddler and kissed his chubby baby smile as parents smiled and "awwed".

He was his own personal librarian.

He was a scientist and contributor to the Hubble Telescope.

He was one of the true Great Debators, and found such joy in a good "discussion".

He was a grandfather who delighted the mind and heart of a lanky blonde girl who took very much after him in looks twenty-some years ago.
These things, and many more, shaped his life and the life of his stories. Stories: some true, some not. Some penned so as to be read over and over again; some spoken, gifts never again to be opened. Some published for the world, some to be enjoyed only by those near him.

This man, whose very life was made up of, encompassed by, and devoted to the written and spoken word has been victimized by the stealthily odious thief by the name of Alzheimers. But he is a good actor, even more eloquent in speech and body language, intriguing the young listener with picture thoughts and questions. But the young listener I once was, is no longer the girl I am today. Today, grown woman observing her own knobby-kneed blondies enraptured in the words of Opa, saw a man who was making stories from pictures. A man who, in his own resilience, tries not to let on that the letters that once beaded themselves into words, that strung themselves in sentences, that wove story upon story, that he spent a lifetime reading, writing, and creating no longer make any sense.

I don't believe my Opa can read any longer.

That thought stings my heart with a bitter blow.

And yet: even handicapped by his own confusion, he is able to capture the hearts and minds of little ones-just as he did with his own children, and as he did with me, one of the nearly two dozen grandchildren. Even now, his great grandchildren sit upon his knee, or lean warmly upon his side and watch. and wait. Knowing that the flow of magic will come streaming from his lips.

Maybe he doesn't know it, maybe he never did. Maybe he did know but cannot retain the memory of it any longer, but here it is.

My Opa was gifted with words.

God gave him that gift to touch the lives of people, and even as I cry for the man that I realize is being lost even more each day, I praise God that even while he may not know it himself, Opa is still pouring out that gift on his great grandchildren. His legacy.

His great grandchildren will not forget. Nor will this granddaughter.

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