Grandpa Chet And The Promise of Easter

When my mother’s father, Chet, was a young man courting my grandmother, Thora, he became very ill, and it was discovered he had contracted polio. This was in the 1920s, decades before the development of the polio vaccine, and a diagnosis of this disease was terrifying. Among its victims who survived, a high percentage were left crippled for life.
                Chet wrote a letter to Thora from his hospital bed, telling her to forget about him and find someone else. According to grandpa, as soon as Thora got the letter, she rushed to the hospital, threw her arms around him, and told him there was no other man for her. They were later married and had three children. Chet supported his family by farming. But his bout with polio did not leave him unscathed. From the time he left the hospital to the end of his life he wore metal braces on his legs and was only able to walk with the help of canes.
                As a child I thought little about my grandfather’s condition—he was just grandpa and his canes were merely a part of him. My siblings and I loved to steal his canes to use as stick horses whenever he came to visit. Mom would scold us for doing this, it never occurring to us that our actions left him stranded on the couch. Grandpa’s gait was slow, making it easy for a child to keep up as we walked down the lane from his house to his barn where he milked cows. It was only later, when I was older, that I realized how amazing it was that my grandfather was able perform so well in as physically demanding of an occupation as farming.

                After grandpa retired from farming, his garden became his pride—especially his strawberries. But grandpa wasn’t able to stand up and hoe or rake as most gardeners do. I recall visiting my parents in December just a year or two after I was married. In the stash of gifts my mother had waiting for Christmas was a child’s little red wagon. None of her grandchildren were yet old enough for such a toy, so I asked her about it. She explained that the wagon was for her father so that he could put his tools in it and pull it behind himself as he crawled through his garden on his hands and knees.
                On an Easter following the death of my grandfather, I heard my mother recall visiting the mortuary following her father’s passing. She said as she looked at him lying in the casket, it occurred to her that this was the first time in her over fifty years of life that she had seen her father when he wasn’t in pain. And then she said, “This is the promise of Easter, that there is an end to pain.”
                At Easter we talk about the miracle of the atonement of Jesus Christ, of his crucifixion, and of his resurrection. We speak of him breaking the bands of sin and death, feats which are well beyond our mortal capacity to comprehend. Yet the promise of it all—the hope it brings--can be expressed simply in my mother’s words, “There is an end to pain.”
                To those who have pain from sin, there is the promise, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18)
                To those who mourn at the loss of one they love, there is the promise, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Corinthians 15:22)
                To those who suffer from physical ailments, mistreatment by others, unfulfilled expectations, or any of the myriad of pains which  are a part of this mortal life, there is the promise, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
                For some, like my grandfather, complete relief may have to wait until the next life. But for much of life’s pain, we don’t have to wait. We can find comfort and relief right now, today. And we can have hope for even greater joy yet to come. This is why we celebrate at Easter. This is why we rejoice in the atonement and resurrection of Christ.
                And so each spring as Easter approaches I think about grandpa Chet. And I marvel at the glorious promise--there is an end to pain.


Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing. Brent and I appreciate this. He remembers Grandpa Chet with much fondness and as I read your latest blog to him, we were both in tears. I of course have never met your grandfather. I understand he was a great man who stands out even to my husband. Thank you for sharing. Wish we knew where you live. Brent has expressed the desire to visit sometime. May the joy of Easter morn find you all well and renewed at this time! Joy cometh in the morning!

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  2. This had me thinking so much of my husband Kendall,, he also had polio, and struggles as your grandpa did. your message is so vital to all of us. Thank you for it, for the reminder , especially this Easter season.

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