His eyes said everything.
Today a small, rural church will fill with people to honor a man and celebrate a life full of its share of ups and downs.
He knew tragedy.
He knew joy.
He knew hard work.
He knew gentleness.
Most of all, he knew love.
And you saw it in his eyes.
Those sparkling eyes...
Even on his death bed, amidst pain and discomfort...a yearning for it all to come to an end...the sparkle was there.
It may have dimmed a bit, but as it accompanied a wink - as it usually did if a grandchild caught his eye - it was one thing the cancer couldn't take.
As I sift through family photographs, it's a privilege to consider the life of this man.
A simple school boy.
A young farmer.
A mourning son.
A grinning groom.
A self-less soldier.
A proud father.
A compassionate grandfather.
Like most farmers, he knew the value of hard work. His strength was undeniable.
In fact, at the point of beginning cancer treatments when he seemed incredibly weak (his family wasn't convinced he could endure it), his doctor believed he would persevere.
Due to sheer strength.
But eventually the battle became too much to fight. The opponent too great.
On his final day, his young granddaughter refused to leave his side. His eyes met hers.
And he winked.
He barely had the strength to take a breath. He could no longer sit up. Attempts to eat or drink were futile.
And yet he winked...and did his best to curve his mouth into a smile for her.
His eyes would want to close, but he'd force them back open.
And then a tear would sneak out of the corner of his eye.
His eyes dimmed. And he was gone.
As the family gathers and remembers this man that meant so much...we grieve a loss.
But cheer for victory over death. Heaven is his new home.
And his eyes shine brighter than ever.
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, even though he dies, he will live." (John 11:25)