Grandfather Mickey – A Recollection

Eulogy I scripted and spoke for the funeral in February 2005 after the passing of my beloved grandfather.

GrampsCan we say that this is a sad day?  Surely.  Can we feel a bit afraid, unsettled, or confused?  Why not?  We were made in God’s image, feelings and all.

But for me, it is not death of which I fear, it is not death that shoved that brick wall before an oncoming freight train in this incredible wreak.

No. In fact this is somewhat of a joyous occasion.  For my grandfather, aged seventy-six ripe years, no longer bears the Hepatitis C which mingled with his blood after an uncanny transfusion.  The disease took the offensive against his liver and lately had been winning for over a year.  But it has now lost.  Doomed, condemned now by the death of its host.

He no longer must struggle, his years now complete, to be laminated, placed carefully into secure plastic sleeves, and published for all to enjoy.  And that is what saddens me.  No more new episodes to be eager to see. No more old arms to hug eagerly. But the reruns are good, the good times we had.

I’ll miss:

  • Leaning about how to layer cement while he lay perked in his hospital bed, with me having no idea why he was telling me this;
  • or talking stocks in Taco Bell and betting on Martha Stewart going on the rise;
  • or seeing the hefty scar on his leg from when he was helping to replace a window in my brother’s room but it shattered and a big chunk of it pierced his leg, and him just telling us to get a bucket for him to bleed into;
  • or swimming daringly on the deep end of the indoor pool he made all by himself, with the help of his son, my dad;
  • or building Awana Grand Prix cars with him, whittling and carving and watching his carpentry skills in action, and having the patience to build a half-bird, half-race car from the designs of a this little ten year old;
  • going bowling with him and grandma a couple years back, and grandpa is actually the one who taught me a more proper bowling technique, you know, such as not throwing the ball into yourself, or those around you, and how to throw straight;
  • my grandma says that he was always amused with how when I was much younger I’d pull his nails back out of the wood when he was working on some carpentry project, then I would nail them back in even more haphazardly;
  • I miss receiving seemingly useless new souvenirs or key chains that us grandchildren could always expect because grandma and grandpa loved to travel about and choose random trinkets for each of us, each representing a story my grandpa could talk about for hours, and it would actually be interesting to listen to;
  • And the time we went to the boundary waters up north near the border of Minnesota, the Rugen boys with the Zalewski boys. One time he took a canoe on his own to explore a new campsite, and only minutes later we all did a double-take to see him standing in chest deep water beside an upside-down canoe, the oar floating beside him, his famous hat dripping, and a huge goofy grin across his face;
  • or even when the whole family came to his hospital bed only weeks ago, and all he could do was continuously apologize that we had to take time out of our day to see him.  And this is proof of how grandpa would not want us to fret too much over his passing; he would hate the fact that he would be the cause of inconvenience.

The last time I talked to him was this last Tuesday, nearly a week ago, and the last day anyone would talk to him, and he seemed chipper, not at all offended that I wasn’t able to go over and meet with him, but simply glad to hear my voice, as I was to hear his.

Yes, a joyous occasion.  For he has passed from death into life, and now praises his Master face to face, and now knows whether heaven’s streets are made of chocolate or gold.

His master, Jesus, has welcomed Lloyd Earnest Rugen home, and they have a lot to discuss, for they are fellow carpenters, and I am sure my grandpa is excited to learn from the Master on new techniques on how to build quirky structures of wood.  In fact, Mick’s uncanny skills in such things have been noticed and appreciated by all.  Lee Block put it well when he said that, ‘Lloyd was a Master Carpenter who could easily turn piles of lumber in to living and almost breathing works of art with what appeared to be almost no effort.’  Yes, I think pastor Marty put it very well in saying that grandpa wouldn’t want a mansion at all, he didn’t like extravagant things, he just liked to think extravagant.  He is probably in cahoots with Jesus up there, planning fun additions together.  My mom and dad were even telling me how he is probably planning our future homes with the Carpenter.

He certainly left a legacy behind, and not just his cold hands and feet.  A legacy that has fulfilled the commands of Deuteronomy 6, in passing on his faith to us with purposeful intention, ‘so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep his statutes and His commandments which I have commanded you, all the days of your life.’

I have many personal ‘thank yous’ to give to my grandfather, but the most important is this, that he did pass down his faith, his relationship with Almighty God.  And as scripture says, ‘You shall bind these commandments as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead,’ and we can all admit, Grandpa Mick had alota forehead [he was bald].

And so as he begins the fulfillment of God’s promises in eternal life, may he reap the treasures of the fruit he produced here on earth, but not before he sweetly hears, ‘Welcome home my child, welcome home!’