I thought I’d like a new digital camera, a Nicole C. Mullen CD, or maybe one of those tall jewelry armoires.
I would have been delighted to unwrap a new pair of jammies or some vanilla-scented bubble bath.
But right now, I just want one thing for Christmas: For Grandpa Paul to come home.
Christmas is one week away, but his flocked tree remains unlit in the house. The presents are stuffed in store sacks, and the wrapping paper is leaning against the wall. The house is quiet — devoid of the bustling that usually happens there in this week before we gather around the big wooden table.
Time is standing still in The Gathering Place, because my father-in-law, Paul, is back in the hospital. And his wife is by his side.
I want just one thing for Christmas: For Grandpa Paul to come home.
Paul was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year, and this man of quiet strength has rarely complained. He has gone through repeated chemotherapy treatments, long hospital stays and excrutiating physical pain. Yet, he has faithfully worked alongside my husband to plant the crop, care for the animals, harvest the corn, haul it into the grain elevator.
Lately, we’ve been celebrating a wonderful respite from cancer and a bountiful harvest. Paul has been in a period of remission, and we thank God for the blessings.
But Paul got sucker-punched this week by a fungus in his lungs. And now he’s back in the hospital. The doctors are telling us he might be in the hospital for a while as they work to get on top of this new development. It’s a rare fungus, and it takes a lot of care and attention to treat it.
Paul has a remarkable team on his side, which includes a close, personal friend of ours: The Great Physician.
So we wait. We remind ourselves what God says about suffering: how it produces perseverance, which produces character, which then produces hope. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts…” (Romans 5:5)
So we wait. And we hope. And we ask for one thing. Just one: For Grandpa Paul to come home.
How we’d love to see you, Paul, in your red Christmas sweater, sitting on the couch next to the flocked tree, bouncing grandkids on your knees and holding those three new Lee babies.
But Grandpa Paul, if you can’t come home, then know this: we’ll be coming to you this Christmas. You can count on us.