Monday, August 10, 2009



My grandpa loved (loves) me.

One of the most treasured relationships in my life (besides the one with my mother) is the one that I had (have?) with my grandpa, Robert Herman Luerding.

I wrote a biography of my grandpa when I was in 5th grade for grandparents day. I learned that he was born in 1922, went to Lutheran school day school, he went to the same high school that I eventually went to, he went to Dartmouth, and eventually became a VP with the Lee Rowen company in St. Louis. He married his high school sweetheart and had five children.

Robert Herman Luerding (known to his 16+ grandkids as Poppy) was never a very emotional person. He was stoic and reserved and only spoke when he had something to say. But his wit was razor sharp and he never missed the opportunity to make a joke. He told great stories that always held my full attention.

Poppy, like Scrooge, liked the darkness because it was cheap. He was always very frugal with his money. But, he did have room for one frivolity: music. He was quite the musician. He even wrote a hymn in his later life. He sang in his church choir for nearly 30 years and donated a sum of money for the choir to get new robes. He had a piano which he loved to play "like a Baptist".

My Poppy was the most faithful person I've known. We had great (semi)theological talks. When the end of his life was near, he reassured me that he was headed home. He wasn't afraid of dying because he knew where he was going: to be with his Beloved. I still remember the look on his face at my confirmation. He was so proud.

During my senior year of high school, Poppy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He opted out of treatment and spent his remaining time at home. That's when I like to think I got the best of him. He passed only two weeks later. I was there when he left us. I'll never forget that moment.

At his funeral I sobbed. Because I missed him. Because this world had lost a great member of mankind. Because the church was packed. And because the church choir came and surrounded his casket to sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic (one of his favorites) as well as the hymn that he wrote, Not Ashamed.

I was very sad that Pop had died, for selfish reasons: he didn't get to see me graduate from high school or start college. Academics were always very important to him. But I also felt at peace.

Tonight I was drawn to Psalm 4:
Many are saying, "Who can show us anything good?"
Let the light of your presence shine on us, O Lord.
You put more joy in my heart than when their grain and new wine increase.
I fall asleep in peace the moment I lie down
because you alone, O Lord, enable me to live securely.
It's been on my heart lately. After I read this passage, I randomly flipped through my Bible. I found a single sheet of paper at the near the beginning, tucked between the pages. I pulled it out, realized what it was, and wept. That's really the only way to describe it. I wept. Big fat tears fell down my face.
It was an email from RHLuerding, my Poppy, who actually had email before I did. He wanted to tell me how much he loved the pictures I had taken on my recent voyage to France, being a world-traveler himself, he wanted to share his excitement. He wanted to congratulate me on my recent 4.o and offer to help my apply for scholarships to college.
And the very last sentence, that's what got me. He said he was proud of me, that he prayed for me everyday and that he loved me. Very much. Which means so much coming from him.
I can't help but think this was meaningful. I know that my Poppy is still praying for me. He still loves me.