Sunday, December 12, 2010

Come to me....

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." {Matthew 11:28-30}
Grandpa Kron's Military Burial
3 weeks ago today, my Grandpa suffered a stroke in the middle of the night. He was less than 2 weeks away from a surgery to remove his kidney, where cancer had spread. Over the next 2 weeks in the hospital, his prognosis fluctuated. He regained movement in his partially paralyzed left side, but never was able to swallow. While in the hospital he picked up several infections, including MRSA & pneumonia, which complicated his already delicate health. 
Gram & Gramps: holding hands after 63 years together.

2 Wednesdays ago, my mom flew up to Illinois be with him in Moline. She had planned to arrive after his scheduled surgery to help with the post-surgery rehab, but moved up her trip once the surgery was canceled & Gramps health continued to deteriorate. The next day, Thursday morning, she called me to let me know that Gramps was slipping away. I jumped on a flight to Moline & a few hours later I was in the hospital with my mom, Grandma, uncles, aunts, & cousins, reassuring Grandpa that God was with him, offering him eternal rest & respite from suffering. There were moments in the next 36 hours where we thought he may let go, but he stayed with us. So we held his hand, sang him his favorite hymns, read to him, prayed with him. We even slept at hospital & made friends with some of the kind staff.
Early morning at the hospital.

Last Saturday morning, my dad, sister, brother & niece arrived from Florida.  The last of Grandpa's family (with the exception of Matt & my brother-in-law Matt) had a chance to hold Grandpa's hand and tell him how much they loved him. Less than 5 minutes after my sister and brother stepped out of Grandpa's hospital room on Saturday morning, he decided to start letting go. He had held on to give his grandchildren a chance to say goodbye. All of grandpa's children (except my sweet Aunt Becky, who stayed behind at Grandma's to watch my niece, Hannah) and grandchildren were with him when he left us to be with the Lord.
Gram receives Grandpa's flag
Grandpa had a beautiful visitation on Tuesday, where probably 300+ people came to offer condolences to my Grandma, mom and uncles. On Wednesday, we celebrated his life at a truly special funeral, a snowy graveside military burial (complete with a 21 gun salute & taps), & a lovely luncheon at my Grandma's church. Matt along with my brother, cousin, dad and brother-in-law, honored Grandpa as pallbearers. I was fortunate enough to get to spend the rest of the week in Moline, helping wrap up some details for Grandma. It was a bittersweet week. It was a joy to gather as a family, something that we rarely have the opportunity to do, but difficult given the circumstances.
My sister and I gave a eulogy at Grandpa's service on Wednesday, which I decided to share here. I realize that this will make an already long post, even longer, but hopefully this will give you a glimpse of the kind of man our Gramps was and how loved & missed he'll be.
My favorite photo of Gramps. Taken on my wedding day.
Our Grandpa, affectionately “Gramps,” brought a lot of joy, laughter & love to our lives. Over the past few days, our family has shared many stories about the life of Gramps, including his more endearing (& sometimes amusing) characteristics. As Katie & I thought about how we could honor him today, we reflected on the lessons we learned from the almost 29 years he’s been a part of our lives. So here they are, “Life Lessons Learned from Grandpa Kron….

Number One: Always be on time
Grandpa was a man of routine.  Whether it was his breakfast schedule, dinner menu, faithfulness in heading down to the mall for a walk or out to a Moline ball game, or his appointments to watch the grass grow in the front drive, he was nothing short of predictable. Probably his most predictable trait, however, was that he was never ever ever late.

In all of his years at John Deere, Grandpa was never late for work. He was the first one ready to go to our ball games, & the first guest at our weddings. He was early to all of his appointments and wholeheartedly considered it rude to keep people waiting. Some of us are still learning the art of punctuality and I’m sure we’ll never live up to Gramps’ standard, but we appreciated this characteristic. He respected people’s time & knew the importance of showing up when you’re expected.

There is only one occasion that we could recall where Grandpa was ever late. This past Friday, Grandpa was ready to head up to his eternal home, but he waited one extra day so that two of his grandchildren could say goodbye. What a fitting and kind way to end his life -- waiting for us.

Number Two: Be passionate
Grandpa was very passionate and loyal about the things he loved in his live, including his family, friends, sports, his hometown, Moline, the Gaithers and John Deere. He was an avid sportsfan, it didn’t matter if his team was on a winning or losing streak, he faithfully tuned in or hopped on a bus to cheer them on. The Cubs, Bears, Maroons and Hawkeyes all held a special place in his heart.

Grandpa was also very passionate about his garden.  Every summer he grew his vegetables and generously shared them with his family and neighbors.  He didn’t give up even when the animals got through the fence, instead he just moved his garden into the grill. (Sidenote for blog readers: Grandpa grew tomatoes in his Weber grill. He figured the animals would have a difficult time getting up to the grill & the kettle was a perfect pot.)

Each one of his kids and grandkids have found similar passion for different things in our lives. Although our passions may not have always aligned with Grandpa’s, he supported us just the same.

Number Three: Make friends wherever you are
It was such a joy to meet many of Grandpa’s friends yesterday afternoon. We were amazed by the number of people who had been befriended by Gramps over the years.

He had friends everywhere he went. He couldn’t help it. Grandpa was a friendly & outgoing guy. He made buddies at the mall, with waitresses at restaurants, at Hafners, Moline games, and especially in the neighborhood. He had a team full of friends – nurses & doctors – caring for him at the hospital these last two weeks.

If you had any doubt about his ability to make friends, you could have just observed him at our weddings. By the end of the weekend, all of the bridesmaids knew Gramps and probably his life & health history. I remember watching him say goodbye to one of my best girlfriends at my wedding by planting a big, juicy, Grandpa Kron kiss right on her lips.

Despite his many quirks, Grandpa was a loveable man. In fact, I’m sure he’s already set up his lawn chair in heaven, waved “hi” to the neighbors & made several new friends in his new home.

Number Four: Treasure your family
One of the most important things to Grandpa was his family; he loved spending time with each one of us.  It didn’t matter where we were, he was always proud to introduce us to his friends, at the mall, the basketball game, the waitress at the restaurant.  Some of our favorite times were sitting together visiting in Grandma and Grandpa’s living room; we’d all pile in, some of us on the floor, and just sit and talk.

Every year, Grandma and Grandpa spent time with their family in Moline, but they also made sure to come down to visit their family in Florida. When it got too difficult for Grandpa to make the long drive to Florida, and before Grandma was ready to get on an airplane, Grandpa agreed to take the Grey Hound.  He and Grandma made the long 24 hour trip to Florida on the bus that year to visit us.

He was so proud of his grandkids.  Throughout the years, both he and Grandma came to our school events, Grandparent’s Days, high school graduations, and confirmations. It made him especially proud to cheer us on at our sporting events, because perhaps it reminded him of his glory days playing basketball, baseball and golf.

This past year, it was his dream, and a goal that he achieved, to come to Florida to watch Mark during his final year of college basketball and to meet Hannah, his great-grandchild.  He loved holding Hannah and enjoyed talking to her and playing with her.

Grandpa’s love for his family is something we will always treasure.

Number Five: Keep an open heart
The most important lesson we could take from Grandpa’s life is the importance of keeping your heart open to the spirit of the Lord. Many faithful believers - most notably Grandma - prayed that Grandpa would come to know the Lord even late in life, & I can say wholeheartedly that the peace of God was so present in his last few days. God was with Grandpa, & I believe that Grandpa’s heart was softened to the Lord & that he welcomed the presence of Jesus in his life. 

As Katie & I talked about what was the most important thing any of us could learn in our lifetimes, it is the simple truth that God loves us, created us as his children, died for our sins on the cross, conquered death in the resurrection & wants nothing more than to have a relationship with us. As Grandpa suffered those last 2 weeks, we believe that the Lord spoke softly to him, offering him eternal respite from his suffering & that Grandpa accepted the wonderful, free gift that God offers to all of us on the cross.

Jesus promises us this rest in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

As we reflect on his life today, Gramps is with the Lord today, resting in the knowledge that he is a child of God and will live eternally with his heavenly father. What a life lesson to celebrate.


  1. I'm so sorry for your family's loss, Susan. Please let your family know they are in my prayers. What a beautiful post on your blog you created for him. I know it is so hard to lose a loved one, and even more difficult around the holidays. I will be thinking of you all. Love, Cristen.

  2. Suz, You're grandpa was such a remarkable man! I especially can support his life lesson of "making friends where ever you are". Living 3 houses from him, I was able to see him quite often when I went for walks and runs. He would just make my day when I would see him sitting in his driveway on his lawn chair. He'd always have a very friendly hello, charming smile, and witty comment to say about my decision to run up a very steep hill (that we live on). Your grandpa will be missed VERY much, especially on 15th Street A. I'm just glad he's in his heavenly home now....relaxing in his lawn chair. :o)
    Love, Jackie Miller

  3. Such a tenderhearted posting Susan. Praying for you and your family. My grandpa's memorial service will be this week on Thursday, and I feel especially sensitive to you in this time.

  4. We are continuing to pray for your family. Thank you and Katie for sharing and bearing witness to the Lord. FF and family


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