Don Harper

Published on 11/10/09

It turns out, this is the month that both of my grandfathers have left this earth to join their Savior, Jesus Christ, in heaven.

My mother’s dad, Don Harper, passed away last night.

I have been thinking about this post ever since I wrote the last one and there are two stories I would like to share with you that really kind of summarize Grandpa.

Several years back, my family on my Mom’s side had Christmas all together at my aunt’s house in Michigan. Growing up, Grandma and Grandpa’s house is where we would always spend Christmas, so it was kind of neat to have the grandkids and the growing number of great grandkids there for Christmas together again. When we were all gathered together getting ready to open gifts, Grandpa made us wait and told us the story of how he and Grandma had come to know God as the result of someone coming and knocking on their door and inviting them to church. He challenged all of us to know the importance of going and “knocking on doors”. Because someone had the courage to go and knock on their door, this clan of people (there were almost 20 of us at the time) were all together, saved, and most were serving the Lord in some sort of ministry.

I will never forget that night. The Lord has used that memory many times to remind me of what I should be doing.

The second story is simple, and is from when my wife and I were newly engaged. We were at my Grandpa’s house visiting him one summer. We were getting ready to leave and doing our hugs and “love you”’s on our way out the door, when he looked at Ingrid and said, “I love you.” He paused for a bit and said, “I mean that. You are my family and I love you.” Grandpa loved his family hugely. As his grandkids got married and his family grew, he loved us all and showed that love all the time. Much of the time that love made him worry more than any of us thought was good, but it was all about his love for his family. The way he welcomed my wife into his family, and made sure she knew it, made me love him even more.

The last thing I’ll say, and no mention of Grandpa’s life would be complete without it, is how much he loved and missed his own wife, Mary. She died more than twenty years ago and Grandpa had been missing her deeply ever since. I am not sure how many years it took before Grandpa was at peace with “Mama” not being with him, but even when he accepted it, he still missed her deeply. Well, he and Grandma are now both sitting at the feet of their Savior. Grandpa’s been looking forward to this day for a very, very long time.

As I said not too long ago, life is short and I will see Grandpa again soon in heaven. I smile knowing he’s probably not missing us as much as we are and will miss having him here with us.


Comments 1–3 of 3
On 11/10/09 Rachel Stemen said:

What a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. This is a challenge to me to be the kind of person worthy of this kind of tribute when my life here on earth is just a memory. I'll be remembering your family in prayer, Mark.

On 11/10/09 Jamie Constant said:

Thanks Mark! Well Put.

On 11/12/09 Carrie Barber said:

Thanks, Mark, for sharing this. We send our love and sympathy to all of you. As Christians there is such hope when we know this is only a temporary "good-bye" but it still hurts because there's a missing part to the family puzzle. Your Grandpa loved you so much and now the "torch has been passed". I'm glad he's enjoying heaven with your Grandma and what a reunion there will be someday. Until then. . with joy I know you'll carry on. That's what your Grandpa would want. Glad we had a chance to know him and spend some time with him. What a special man!

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