Grandpa Ralph Lubbers, age 91, went home to glory this week. On June 17th he was passed away peacefully at the hospital, with my Dad, Uncle Andy, and cousin Kelly praying him into the hands of Jesus. I was on-route, flying home from Uganda... hoping that I would be able to say good-bye.
(Please hit play to hear the song)
(Please hit play to hear the song)
Grandpa was a strong Dutchman, who blessed you with his actions, but rarely ever his words. You would never hear "I love you", but I know that he loved me. I fondly remember sitting beside Grandpa in 2008... he handed me a $20 bill and gave me the Lord's blessings to go to Uganda. He also said at the time... "Well, I don't know if I will see you again when you get back in one year... so take care." I smile when I think about the 7 extra years that God has blessed me with - times to go fishing together, Skype calls, Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, and simple phone calls - to talk about the boat, weather, or the garden.
Here I am with Grandpa on the Great Lake Erie.
Grandpa and Grandma
Family campouts happened occasionally when I was a little girl. Grandpa was always full of stories, jokes that were only funny because they came from Grandpa, and a twinkle in his eye.
This photo reminds me so much of Grandpa. When I was a little girl, Grandpa was a hard working pig farmer and a seed salesman. I don't know how many times he would drop by our house for a cup of coffee as he was selling seeds in the area. He seemed a constant in my life. Living only 20 minutes away, we saw him quite often.
I will never forget his stories of war - during his time as a youth in the Netherlands... and how he hid in a barn for two years so that he wouldn't be taken to Germany. He spent his time tucked under blocks of hay, carving pipes and chatting with a neighbour who was hiding with him.
Even though Grandpa was a heavy smoker for most of his life, he taught me one of the greatest life lessons. At the age of 3 or 4, I remember sitting at his kitchen table, surrounded by 1970's orange floral wallpaper. He handed me a cigarette. I smoked it, choked on it, and vowed never to smoke again... and I never did. :)
Grandpa fought for 3 years in Indonesia, after WWII, and when I went to the Philippines from 2001-2004, he finally started opening up to me about his time there. We talked about the beautiful people, the tropical weather, yummy foods, church, and so much more, but you would never find him talking about battle. Grandpa served as a chef in the army and so I grew up eating many scrumptiously spicy Indonesian dishes.
I remember one story that he told about when the soldiers had to move base camp. The cooks were going to cook from the old base while the soldiers moved to the new camp and set up. So hours later, with ready foods being hauled in the back of a military lorry, they headed through the jungle to bring food to hungry soldiers. Driving through winding, mountainous roads, the brakes failed on the way to camp. The truck overturned and spilled a huge vat of rice into the bush. Grandpa told me that as the sun was setting, the men were shovelling cooked rice back into the truck... and somehow they were able to deliver the food, hours late (and probably with some extra jungle grub) to the soldiers.
It's an incredible blessing to know that my heritage is deeply rooted in the love of Christ!!
Last summer when I was home, Grandpa took me to this quaint little restaurant. He wanted to introduce me to the sweetest Filipina that owned the restaurant. We chowed down on rice noodles and shared stories. Grandpa was loved by many people. After landing on Thursday morning, just this week... Mom, Dad, and I drove back to that little restaurant and shared a meal in his honour.
In 9th grade, while taking a home economics cooking class, I did a cultural project on Indonesia. My teacher was overwhelmingly impressed when I invited Grandpa (and my Dad) to come and be guest chefs for my project finale. I was so proud of Grandpa when he shared stories and cooking tips with my classmates, and the teacher marked a project she would never forget. Even my brothers can tell you... the teacher was hoping they would bring Grandpa back when they attended her class. :)
Here is Grandpa's last garden (2015)... he definitely knew how to put a years worth of food in the freezer. He was often found on his knees, pulling weeds.
I just have to show you Grandpa's deck of cards. I can still hear him sitting at the kitchen table, lightly whistling as he played solitaire.
Since Grandma passed in 2003, Grandpa was always a part of our family Christmases... and often our Thanksgiving dinners too. It just won't be the same without him.
Grandpa - you will be loved and missed greatly. You leave a strong legacy - having four children, 13 grandchildren, and 29 great-grandchildren. I pray that you are rejoicing in heaven... with Jesus holding your hand. I hope you are meeting up Grandma, Uncle Henry, Aunt Roely, the nieces and nephews I never met, and so many more. May God be with you 'til we meet again.