Muse by David Teitsma

My attempt to understand and be understood.


My Grandpa Teitsma

Just under a year my grandpa died. He had been anemic because of bleeding in his esophagus and was on medication to address this. He continued to have problems, so me and my brother brought him to the ER, after a while of convincing. The hospital was able to stop the bleed but at the risk of causing his kidneys to fail. Since his kidneys weren't working properly fluid built up in his body, eventually filling his lungs. With medication they got the kidneys to function some, but in the end he died from the strain on his body to breath while his lungs were so filled with fluid.

The whole situation was stressful as my parents were in Europe, and we were in constant contact with them regarding all the changes. We thought it wasn't serious enough for them to return early. It seemed like he was going to die the morning while they were flying back but he made it until they returned, and then perked up for several days and then worsened.

In fact, this was probably the most stressful, sacred week of my life. The hospital doctors weren't very cooperative, and its so hard to know how much to push different issues and be an advocate for him.

He continually said that he was going home (heaven). But my brother and I tried to persuade him to not give up. Actually, my parents didn't understand the severity of the situation when they first got back. My dad understood his 'going home' was that he was going to return to his condo. It eventually set in.

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I am not at peace about his death yet, but I know that eternity is secured for him. He was very upfront about what he believed and where his heart laid.

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Over the last several years, I have gotten to know him a lot better. Grandma and him had usually been geographically far away. For the last several years, they lived in Grand Rapids. My grandma suffered from a stroke for about a year before passing away, in which time my parents and I became a lot more involved with their lives. We got into the habit of bringing him over for dinner each Sunday. This was a blessing and I loved talking to and hearing his stories, (except for some of them that he frequently repeated). Many times we would be talking at dinner, and he couldn't hear anything, so he'd butt in and just started talking about something else. We'd just laugh a little and listen. He always pondering things throughout the week and had great insight and support for things that were going on. I am saddened that he couldn't see me on my bike trip this last year, however I was glad to have his support before I left.

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They used to live on Lake of the Clouds in Canadian Lakes. I was young when they lived there, so I there huge house seemed even more like a castle. The lived in such a beautiful house overlooking the lake. They were fun to spend time with and always had fun little toys to play with. I loved to climb down the hundreds (it seemed) steps to the pontoon boat and go out for a ride. When we went fishing I would only catch sunfish, but my brothers caught 'real' fish, except the one time that I caught my brother's shirt when I was casting. Needless to say, he wasn't too happy. Also, one winter, my dad and I went ice fishing and caught a huge pike. I loved watching the fish swim by while sitting in a shanty. And my grandma would bake hamburger buns with cheddar cheese and bacon. Oh so good!

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For many years, they retreated to the warmth of Florida in the winter. Several times, we took Christmas break and spent the holiday with them on the ocean. I loved spending this time with them, while exploring the area and enjoying the sights. We also got to fish off the back of their trailer lot. So many good memories.

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My grandpa told many stories, about hauling pigs between Grand Rapids and Chicago in snowstorms or through many different times (except he never had a flat tire). He even took a bunch of people down in the back of the trailer to Chicago for a day. He also worked for the post office aboard the railroad, where they even used old blocks of ice for air conditioning on the hot sweltering days.

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But most of his stories seemed to revolve around sailing. They sailed in the winter weather trying to return Rich's boat to the local harbor to be taken out for the winter, despite wretched weather. They sailed and got lost on the west coast of Lake Michigan and had to anchor in an unknown area. They went with my dad to Drummond Island and go fishing, which included the time my dad kept dipping his bread in the left over tasty bacon grease and later got sick.

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He was always fit, healthy, and trim. He was quiet, smart and kept their business running smoothly including the bookkeeping and filed taxes until the last couple years of his life. He was faithful and diligent. He was knowledgeable about the Bible and God, but didn't say much about it but it showed in his prayers of quoting scripture and eloquent and concise ideas.

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Even though I am sad that I can no longer talk and visit with him, he lived a full life with so many amazing experiences. In a sense, he was ready.

He is loved and missed.