March 26, 2012 - it was a bitter sweet day in the Franken household. It is the day my grandpa went to meet Jesus. Today marks 3 years.
I've been thinking about him a lot lately and remembering the legacy he built-up and left behind. I can honestly say Grandpa was one of my hero's. He was filled with passion, made prayer a priority and truly wanted MORE of Jesus each and every day. He was not perfect by any means and is probably the most stubborn person I've ever know. BUT he knew what he believed and overcame adversity on so many different levels.
I started this journey down memory lane a few weeks ago, as I was reading the book Unbroken. If you have not read the book (or watched the movie for you non-readers:), the book takes place in WWll and centers around men who were captured and placed in Japanese POW camps.
My grandpa could've been one of the people written about in this book. He was born and raised in Indonesia (back then it was called the Dutch East Indies) and became a captain in the Dutch Army. During WWll he was captured and placed in a Japanese POW camp. He survived the hellish conditions and eventually immigrated to the USA a few years after the war was done. To the day my grandpa died he would not throw away any food.
Growing up about 700 miles north of my grandparents, I would only get to see my them a couple times a year. It may not have been often, but each time it was treasured. My sister and I would share an upstairs room when we'd stay at grandma & grandpa's. In order to get from that bedroom to the rest of the house, we'd have to walk through grandpa's office area. A picture that is ingrained in my memory, is grandpa sitting by his desk EACH morning having quiet time with the Lord and praying. On numerous occasions I would stop (being the inquisitive child I was), and ask him what he was doing! He would ALWAYS take time to answer me. 9 out of 10 time he would say he was praying for each of his grandchildren - including me. That we would love Jesus and marry someone one day who would love us and love Jesus too.
My 6 year old brain soaked in what he said. As the years went by, I would hear the same statement. Soon, I was heading off to college and those words continued to stick with me. I remember one point in college I was ready to throw in the towel on my faith. I didn't understand why God had allowed some horrible situations to happen to me... I was angry and holding on by a thread. I look back now and know without a shadow of a doubt that my grandpa's prayers helped get me through that time in my life. I knew he was sitting at his desk every morning begging God to real me back in. To shower unconditional love on me when I could hardly love myself. I am happy to say, I came out of that period in my life holding on. My faith is strong and continues to grow. Years later, I married an amazing man who was an answer to prayer - he loves Jesus AND me.
As grandpa aged, he started to have memory problems. He would become frustrated a lot easier and would tell the same story over and over again. But not once did he loose his faith. He would beg God to take him home; to end his earthly suffering and be able to walk through the gates of glory. As the years went by, his mind focused on heaven more and more. If you would ask grandpa "how are you doing today?", he would lift up his hands, put them together (like you were going to place something in them) and reply by saying "you know what this means?" and it was the same answer every time "I'm in God's hands."
As I remember grandpa today, my heart is so full of joy. I can see his smile and hear his laugh... I know, in the deepest parts of my soul, that he is having the time of his life worshiping with all the people and angels in heaven. His legacy is living on. His passion, his perseverance and even his stubbornness (unfortunately that gene runs super thick in the Franken blood).
Thanks for all your prayers and loving me well Grandpa. Today I am not able to go put flowers where you lay... but I hold you close in my heart and remember the hero you've always been to me.
John Everett Franken
June 6, 1921 - March 26, 2012