Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tomorrow makes a year. A year ago tomorrow we lost the patriarch of the Kalles family. And even after a year the loss can be felt as if it was just yesterday.

Where do I begin to explain the feelings swirling in my heart at this loss?

Grandparents are important family figures. Grandparents take on a totally different role then a parent. I have lost both sets of grandparents. My mama, Grandma and Grandpa went home when I was just a kid not understanding the true meaning of death. My papa was just a few years ago. As for Gramps – well he was my grandfather by marriage but he took me in as if I was blood. I will cherish that for always because being his granddaughter was an honor.

Rev. Harlan E. Kalles
Rev. Harlan E. Kalles

Here is a little background on how I met Gramps. You see, by the grace of God Gramps became a part of my family’s lives. In 1997 my family somehow found his church. We went and quickly ran out of there because it was different. Not bad different. Good different. That’s the first day I actually met my husband and let me tell you I instantly hated him – I’ll tell you that story some other day.

That following year, after the loss of my stepdad, my mom was having trouble with life. She was working at Ross at the time when she met a husband and wife who went to Family Christian Center (side note: to the Febos, thank you for your obedience. Had it not been for you my family and I would have had a completely different life right now). I think my mom sort of forced us to go. When we did, we realized it was the same church that we ran out of the year before. But, it was different some how.

Gramps always preached as if he was talking to me. Every Sunday it was like he was looking straight through my soul. I felt uncomfortable and yet I could feel his words comforting the very deepest pain in my soul. That’s when I knew that whatever he had, whatever the church had, I wanted. They weren’t like other “Christians” that I had become accustomed to.

In 1999 there was a family camp at KMC and Gramps lead me to the Lord. I became one of them that night. I never regretted it being a Christian isn’t easy. But, watching Gramps made it easier. You see, he was one of those people that you knew that you could just be you with. He never judged. Never made me feel less of a person. He always made me feel loved and welcomed no matter how often I screwed up. And I screwed up often. His love and faith in God was so admirable. He made me want that with God.

I remember my wedding day. My dad was the only immediate family member that could make it. At the reception a few others scattered the tables, but it was mostly Jeremy’s family and the church. I won’t deny how much that bothered me, but that’s a different story to tell – and yes, I have a lot of stories. Anyway, Jeremy and I decided to write our own vows. Gramps made a joke on how my vows didn’t include the fact that I’d be humble to my husband. – this was a joke because I’m pretty stubborn and headstrong, too independent for my own good. But that joke, the ease of which he got us through that night made me realize then that I was lucky. Yes, my blood family wasn’t there to enjoy my day, but that night I had accepted to be part of another family, Grandpa’s family. That alone is pretty special. Also, at that time baffling because I never thought I’d be a part of the preacher’s family. And Gramps, he took me in without a backwards glance.

All this to say that Gramps was a testament of God’s undying love. And from that he taught me a lot of things these last 16 years. He taught me humility, love and laughter. He taught me patience and friendship, obedience and faith. He taught me how to be humane, how to be in a healthy relationship with my husband, how to communicate, the important of having a strong character and how to be honest with myself and to God. But, most of all he taught me how to love and accept me for me. He taught me that I could be loved, that I wasn’t unlovable, that I was important. That life lesson continues to lead me to the places I am destined to be.

My favorite things I loved about Gramps? He knew how to push when needed or knew when to back off. He tolerated my messy because he believed and saw what God saw in me. He modeled evangelism and lived a life for Christ. He was joyous during the hardships always falling to his knees in prayer. He was so selfless. He was of strong character and loved his congregation. He had the most effective preaching, doing it all without making you feel like crud. He was an absolutely amazing man. And today, as we inch closer to the day he went home to be with Nana, I realize this last year has been difficult without him as a mentor, a friend, and most importantly as my grandpa. Words can’t describe how much I miss him. The only thing I can do? Follow in his footsteps and be the person God intended me to be.

I love you Gramps. Thank you so much for everything that you have done for me. I can still hear you call me your Gem. And, I never told you this, but that was an honor for me. To have a name that indicates something special and of importance meant a lot to me. You meant a lot to me. We love you and miss you. Always.