Update 4 pm: Grandpa Virgil’s surgery was successful after five bypasses. He will be recovering in ICU for at least two days before moving to a private room. Praise the Lord!
In a matter of hours, Grandpa Virgil Hendrickson will be entering an operating room for open heart surgery. As I lie awake this morning, I can only contemplate the sheer and painful irony of that thought. A man who has lived his whole life opening his heart for those he loves, himself needing the skilled hands of medical professionals to repair his own weary heart.
Grandpa is an entropy-fighter. On any given day you can find him cutting back the shaggy manes of all kinds of people at Virg’s Barber Shop in Mattawan. Don’t take the “Open” sign at face value, but if he’s not there, he might be raking the leaves, mowing the grass, or plowing the driveway at his home or the home of someone he loves.
Grandpa is a generous giver. He is known to give many pounds of self-caught salmon, meals at the local American or Chinese buffet, or tapioca pudding by the gallon. When someone is in need, he helps. He lives to give because he truly loves his friends.
But, HEY!, you know what I’ve always said, Collin. What’ve you got but your friends?
— Grandpa Virgil
It was six years ago, last night, that he lost his only daughter to a long fight with cancer. For years, I got to witness firsthand what great love can exist between a father and daughter. I remember late nights sitting on the couch with mom watching HGTV when we got the call from Grandpa. “Hey, just leavin’ a card game, can I bring you a malted or somethin’?” He would follow that call with a visit shortly after, whether a brief greeting or, as mom’s illness progressed, an overnight stay. A father should not have to bury his daughter. I just cannot imagine that God would have in mind that Adam and Eve would have to bury Abel. But, we live in a sin-cursed world full of injustices (just ask Dr. King). God has a reason for everything, even though in the chaos we pleadingly cry out asking “why?”, but I’m sure that Grandpa Virgil’s testimonies of his daughter of whom he was and is so proud have encouraged countless others.
I hope these words from a half-asleep grandson are an encouragement to grandpa when he wakes up healed and refreshed today. I hope they those huddled in the waiting room find them as an affirmation of support this morning, even though I cannot be there in person. But, ultimately, I know that God hears the constant and genuine prayers of His children.
So, on this morning, I pray…
For the medical staff, provide clarity of thought, steady hands, and deep compassion.
For the out-of-town family, provide peace and patience as they wait out the hours abroad.
For the family and friends gathered in the waiting room, provide an aroma of love and a joy resting in the character of who grandpa is.
For grandpa, cover him in the peace of his Creator. Give him the humility to allow others to serve him. Mend his heart.
I love you, grandpa.