For When I Say Goodbye to Grandpa (Word of The Week)


September 1, 2014 by Beth Hess

james5-16When he wrote a letter, he printed two.

One stamped and into the mail. Another in a file.

Which means I have just been handed a pile of words he’s written to me over the last 20+ years. Words that have weight, not only because of his death in May, but because there is something powerful about them all in one place — read back to back — and not scattered by the delay of months and miles and moods between.

He did not live to be 100.
He thought he might like that.

But 4 months shy of 99, his heart could no longer be contained by his declining body. So his soul now lives in heaven. But his legacy of faith lives here with us still.

Because in every one of the letters — where he spoke of pride and pastimes and pending plans — he wrote, too — ALWAYS — of praying for me.

The fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

Today I have returned from his Celebration of Life. A celebration including all of his children and their spouses. All of his grandchildren and their spouses. All of his great-grandchildren. Not one missing. He was the patriarch of a family united.

So I am spending these days more grateful than grieving.

For I am covered still in his love. Surrounded forever by his prayers.

Proud of his blood in my veins. Cherishing his Jesus in my heart.

Me with my Grandpa. 1974.

Me with my Grandpa. 1974.


I return each Sabbath for a fresh Word of the Week. For the God-breathed pages to come alive in a phrase or two on which to spend a 7-day feast. To meditate upon. To use as a jumping off point for whatever other words God would have me hear during the week. I would love for you to join the Word of the Week (WOW) discussion by adding your selected verse to the comments … or reflections on any scripture reading. 

Linking with Unforced Rhythms — a wonderful community of writers who gather each Monday to share with you HERE.


11 thoughts on “For When I Say Goodbye to Grandpa (Word of The Week)

  1. Oh Beth, how I desire to be a grandpa Zimmerman to my grandchildren. It is gratifying that you know just how precious he is. And his letters written to you -iike a book of life to his granddaughter-are invaluable. I certainly understand how much you cherish them and his memory. Although the letters have stopped, his prayers probably haven’t (although this can’t be confirmed while in our mortal tents). Thanks for sharing him and a part of your life with us. I am encouraged. There should be more rejoicing than grieving for a man who lived and loved as he did.


    • Beth Hess says:

      It was a wonderful celebration with family and, indeed, more rejoicing than grieving. All clearly covered in his prayer. I, too, found myself wanting to be more committed to my family that way. I’m blessed that it was encouraging to you.


  2. […] the items Grandpa Zimmerman left behind is a folder labeled “Published” … various Letters to the Editor he contributed […]


  3. ambercadenas says:

    “His heart could no longer be contained by his declining body.” I doubt there could be a more beautiful description than this of the death in old age of one with a huge heart. In this brief tribute to his life, Beth, the essence of his love and life wrap me up, too, in a sense of gratitude. He sounds like an amazing man to live on in your life and the lives of those he touched. What a legacy to leave behind: “For I am covered still in his love. Surrounded forever by his prayers. Proud of his blood in my veins. Cherishing his Jesus in my heart.” Thank you for sharing him with us.


  4. katiewilda says:

    Those letters must bring back so many memories…Sounds like the world lost a great man. I’m sorry for your loss and wishing you much comfort in the hope you’ll see him again.


  5. Kathryn Shirey says:

    What a gift to have those letters – those words of wisdom, encouragement and prayer from your grandfather.


  6. Beth,
    What a truly beautiful and powerful testimony about a godly man’s legacy…and sweet picture of you with him…you are truly blessed 🙂 Good to see you again.


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