Bent Fingers of Blessings

Seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote the last entry.  Just a few days after that post, my dad got the call that his dad was fading and it was time for the family to gather and say their goodbyes.

Dad flew straight up to Lafayette, Indiana to spend a few days with Grandpa Barclay before returning home to wait for that final call.  Grandpa had been sick off and on the previous year and half or so, and his organs were slowly fading and shutting down. He’d had a few close calls, but had always rallied and made a strong come-back.  He was glad when the doc told him his time was close – while he was sick, he couldn’t go to church, which was his favorite past-time;  also, Grandma Barclay had passed away from colon cancer a few years before, and he missed her terribly and longed to be with her.   But it quickly became evident that Grandpa was fading faster than anyone had anticipated, and just three days later, he left us to join Grandma and his Lord and Savior.

My brother, Chris, Mom and I flew up to join the family in Lafayette.  We just barely had time to change clothes before heading to the viewing.  At first, it seemed like we were at someone else’s funeral.  It just didn’t look like Grandpa.  In life, his personality was so huge.  How could he be so small in the casket? 

And then I noticed his hands, folded over his Bible.  The middle finger of each had had been permantently bent ever since I could remember.  And suddenly, all the memories came flooding back.  I remembered his hands raised in prayer for us before we first left for Asia when I was just six years old, imploring God to bless my parents’ efforts to bring the Good News to another people.  I remembered his hands on my cousin Aaron’s tiny head, just a year old, when my aunt and uncle first learned he was autistic.  How Grandpa claimed the Lord’s blessing for his grandson, for a full life.  Today, he holds two degrees and is a computer engineer.  I remember Grandpa’s crooked fingers on mine and my husbands’ heads on the day of our wedding, as in his booming voice he gave his blessing on our union before God – a union that I am proud to say has grown stronger and deeper with every passing year.  How I wish I could have seen those bent fingers on my own baby’s head, passing on the blessing that Grandpa Barclay claimed without hesitation from the Lord he loved and served.

Thirty five years ago, Grandpa Barclay felt a burden in his heart to provide a place where the Spanish-speaking people in Lafayette could worship together.  So he started the first mission church – now grown to many churches in many cities, all reaching out to serve a people who can now worship the Lord in their own tongue.  The congregation at that first mission church became Grandpa’s family after Grandma passed away.  They made sure he never felt alone, he always had a ride to church and a job to do while he was there.  Every day someone would take him to the church where he would putter around the pews, straightening up, cleaning, singing and worshipping.  On the day of his funeral, the services were in both English and Spanish.  There were so many, the churches hired buses to bring in all the people.  In 7 degree weather, over 200 gathered at the gravesite as my brother and cousins carried him to his resting place beside my grandmother.  How good it is to know he was treasured and loved.

Now I am home again, and it seems weeks have gone by, although it’s just been two days.  I will post pictures eventually.  Here I have his favorite old quilt, his favorite flat cap hat he never went outside without, and his Spanish Bible.  Although I can’t read the Spanish words, I treasure the notes he wrote in English in the margins, and I’m amazed at the depth of his understanding of and reverence for the Lord.  And I feel regret and wish for more time to know him better.  I will strive to be the granddaughter he deserves.  It helps to know his legacy lives on through those he loved, through his family, and inside me – in our first to-be-born, who even now is kicking hard enough through my tummy to make the keyboard jump while I try to type.

Although he will be deeply missed, it is with great joy that we know that Grandpa’s suffering is over, and he is where he has always longed to be.  At peace, in the presence of the Lord, and with the one he shared his whole life on earth with.  At the funeral my father said, “As a boy, we always look up to our fathers, and tell them that, ‘I want to be just like you, Dad.’  Now, at 63, I can still say that I want to be just like you, Dad, because you wanted to be just like your Father, Jesus Christ.  We know you are now in His presence, and He has welcomed you with open arms, saying, ‘Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

William Anderson Barclay, May 13, 1922 – January 18, 2011

“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful … enter now into the joy of thy Lord.”   ~Matthew 25:21

“And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Peter 1:11


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lifebytheday
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 18:10:31

    Beautiful post Stacey – I’m crying over here! Sending you hugs and prayers…


  2. Pie
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 18:24:34

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He was clearly loved.


  3. Another Dreamer
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 18:50:58

    So sorry for your loss.


  4. Low Fat Lady
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 19:43:55

    I am so sorry for your loss.


  5. Christy
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 21:05:55

    Oh, Stacey. What a beautiful post.
    I am so very sorry for the loss of your grandfather. He will be missed.


  6. Hope
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 19:15:13

    So sorry to hear about your grandaddy. We lost mine in October and it was so hard. I really wanted him to see my children. I just keep reminding myself that he will some day, just in another place!


  7. Womb For Improvement
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 06:34:43

    Sorry to hear about your loss. But it sounds like he had a full life and was surrounded by love until the last.


  8. Myndi
    Feb 01, 2011 @ 17:03:31

    I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds as though he lived a very fulfilling life and touched a lot of lives, including yours. Although he won’t ever meet your child(ren), he’ll touch them throughout their lives because he touched you. 🙂


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