In memory of Clarence E. Benjamin

There is an air of melancholy over our days this week. Yesterday my last surviving grandparent, Clarence Benjamin, passed away. Yet, when we have hope and assurance of a better life after death, we can't help but feel relief and peace mixed with our sorrow. He lived to a ripe age of 92.

Grandpa and his first son

Grandpa was a farmer, rancher, and business man who loved what he did. Better than that he was a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather with a ready hug. Even having 9 kids of his own didn't sour his taste toward children and he always made time to appreciate us.

Grandpa and I (at about age 2)

Grandpa and EvaGrandpa and Sarah at his 90th birthday

My childhood memories of him have unfortunately faded with my poor memory, but I do well remember the summer my Grandma died. I had moved home that summer to plan my wedding and was there at the hospital the day she failed to make it through heart surgery. I remember his stun and grief. That summer he was longing for companionship and wandered around to quite a few conventions and various places. I traveled with him several times. He would always get a short ways down the road and turn the keys of his Cadillac over to me. 

One of my favorite photos of Grandpa and Grandma

He was there for my wedding later that summer, even though I could tell it was a hard day for him. We got married in the same room Grandma's funeral was held in earlier that summer.

Tom's Grandma Elva Clark, Grandpa, Me, Tom, and my Grandma and Grandpa Stephens

And now we find ourselves living in the house he and Grandma built together, and working on the farm he originally purchased and established. To say I am thankful for his legacy is an understatement.

By chance, we happened to be in town (where Grandpa lived in his care home) for a conference this past weekend. Grandpa had broken his hip the day before and was in the hospital. Since he definitely wasn't strong enough for general aesthesia, the doctors were hoping they would be able to put a pin in his hip using local anesthetic. However, under the heavy influence of pain medicine he declined quickly. He was very drowsy, wasn't keeping his oxygen up, and wasn't waking up even to eat and drink. By some miracle, when we walked into his hospital room to see him his eyes popped open and we were able to enjoy quite a few minutes with him. He acknowledged our presence and even said a few words. We joked a little about how we needed to go to these conferences to learn how to farm—yet he could have taught the classes we were attending. He spent our visiting time gripping my hand tightly. After a bit Tom snuck out to buy him an ice cream cone at McDonald's—his favorite—and we watched my Aunt Joann feed him what turned out to be his last treat. It was a blessing to be there and a memory I will always cherish. He died 2 days later.

We will honoring him at a funeral service on Saturday, and I am helping with those preparations and expecting a houseful of guests this weekend. As such, I will likely be silent on the blog this week. Thank you all for your support.