As a child my grandpa was one of my heroes. I was the first of his grandchildren, and the first girl in the Nester family after decades of boys. I was special, and he made me feel special. I had him tightly wound around my finger and I quickly realized I could get almost anything I wanted from him! I loved to make him laugh and I loved to make him proud. His generosity in my life brought him to countless sports events and choir concerts, funded braces on my crooked teeth, countless ice cream cones and even helped me pay for college. His love was obvious through his generosity, especially to his girls, Lizzie and I.
In high school I had to do a paper on WWII and I interviewed grandpa about his time in the Navy. I was caught off guard as he choked up talking about those days and that was when I first realized there was more to him than the fun loving man I had seen in my childhood. As I grew into adulthood I came to understand the heavy burden that he carried in his heart and I longed for him to feel free.
Grandpa and I had many conversations about God. As a child I was quite the evangelist! He teased me about that a little in my adulthood, but I know there was something special about our conversations about God. When I had children of my own, Grandpa became my hero all over again as I watched him dote over my children. He spoiled them rotten, just as he had me and it brought immense joy to my heart to watch him delight in my children. He picked them up for big hugs, even at 90 years old and began a tradition of always having something in the trunk of his car for them when he visited. Seeing him with my kids was like seeing the years lift off of him, it was beautiful to watch.
Grandpa was able to share love so freely with his grandchildren and great grandchildren, I longed for him to understand that he was also loved this way by His heavenly father. In the last few years of his life I watched in awe as he became more open to God's love. I watched as he began to dare to believe that the love and grace and forgiveness we had been talking about for decades was for him too, and I let myself begin to hope he would find the freedom and peace I had longed for for him. And then the day came, he was baptized last summer and the burdens he carried for nearly 90 years finally slipped away. In this last year of his life I saw a peace in his heart he had never had before, and I heard gratitude from his lips that I had never heard before. He had always been able to show his love to his grandchildren, but now I heard his deep gratitude for his amazing wife of 60 years, as tears ran down his face, and I knew that love had completed its good work in him. I know He is now fully in the presence of that love. I am sad that we don't get to see him anymore, but I am so thankful and filled with joy as I imagine him healthy and truly free for the first time. His generous spirit and outpouring of love will live on in me, my siblings, my cousins, my children and Lily. I am so, so thankful for his love and that Love never stopped pursuing him.