Richard Allan Tunney, my grandpa.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

My sweet Grandpa Tunney passed away in August, and our family traveled to Ohio for his funeral. I loved this man deeply and missed him for the past several years as Alzheimer's took his mind away from us while his body lingered. I wanted to share what I said at his funeral as I hope it truly honors the man he was. I cannot wait to see him whole in eternity!
He stood only 5 feet 7 inches, but Richard Allan Tunney - my Grandpa - was a giant of a man. Loyal, steadfast, hardworking. He was an honorable man, and I am grateful for the opportunity to honor him today.

Grandpa leaves quite a legacy, and I know he would love to see these first few rows this morning: his bride of 68 years, 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and (so far) 9 great-grandchildren.
I have sweet early memories of him: the smell of his workshop, the way he smiled with his eyes, his strong arms as he pushed one of his four granddaughters on the swing in the backyard. I remember many Sundays spent on one of those back pews, wondering how in the world every single person at Bethel knew Grandpa by name. Even though we grew up about 5.5 hours away, Grandma and Grandpa never missed a major moment. They'd drive to Nashville to watch our cross country meets or to take pictures before prom or graduations. And I'll never forget them dancing at my wedding. Grandpa also had a bit of a mischievous streak that I especially admired. One time, in my early teens, I convinced him to hang a full-sized hammock from the walls of my bedroom when my parents just happened to be out of town. We both clearly knew they'd said "no" to the idea, but he helped me do it anyway, and I loved him all the more for it.

Grandma - I want to talk to you for a minute. Your courageous, sacrificial love for Grandpa, especially over this past decade, has astounded me. You have worked so hard but I know you'd do it all again if given the chance. You never stopped, you never gave up. I know he would be so thankful for your incredible care. I'm confident he's the only Alzheimer's patient in all of Ohio who had his hair blow dried every single day. I know your love wasn't perfect, but it sure was strong.

A little while ago, you told me over the phone that it had been a particularly rough day. I listened as you recounted Grandpa's unsurprising stubbornness when it came to just about every part of his daily tasks. 

But then you paused. And I'll never forget what you said: "I still remember him walking up the drive to pick me up for our first date. I was 16. It's still him. I love him, and I'll love him 'til the day I die." 

I work part-time as a nurse, and each time I'm headed to work at the hospital, I call Grandma. It's a chance to catch up for 10 or 15 minutes, and one of the first things I always ask is, "How is Grandpa today?"

Now that Grandpa is in Heaven, you better believe I'll still call. But I won't have to ask that question because I already know the answer. So I want to ask that question - and answer it - one final time.

How is Grandpa today?

Grandpa is having his best day ever and this is only the beginning. Grandpa is whole. His mind is sharp and clear, his joy complete as he's in the presence of his Savior, Jesus. He's free from the broken body he struggled inside for the last several years of his life. Grandpa knows peace like none of us in this room have yet experienced. We don't have to pray for him anymore because we know where he is. We know Whose he is. We may say "we've lost him," but Grandpa is not lost to God. And in just a little while, we who place our hope in the resurrected Christ will join him in a glorious future we can hardly fathom. Amen!

1 comment:

  1. Your speech was beautiful. The love that you express is one that shows what a wonderful and caring person he was to you and your family and your grandmother.
    When you said he is whole now that really caught me.
    A week from today is the anniversary of my father's passing. It will 2 yrs next week. My father was 89. He had a life that most would have envied. He worked hard and he enjoyed the fruits of his labor. He had a wife who loved him and that love produced 7 children and then 12 grandchildren. My father had had a heart attack and a stroke but what caused his passing was melanoma that has metastasized in a short amount of time.
    You stated your grandfather is whole. I would like to think that my father is walking and enjoying where he is with other loved ones who are in the after. Thank you in your time of sorrow to express a sentence that is actually helping me.


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