I can’t help but hear the echoing voice of Mufasa in that epic scene from The Lion King: “Remembaaah! Remembaaah!” Oh, James Earl Jones. Every time. Simba chases after the quickly vanishing vision of his father but he can’t catch a memory.
Yesterday I was talking with Jeff and my parents a bit about my Grandpa. Richard C. Ripberger and I were very close, you see. My childhood partner in crime, Thomas, my eleven-days-older-than-me cousin, and I would go wherever and do whatever Grandpa wanted us to do. That Jeff never knew Grandpa has been a strange and difficult reality. He’s but a memory to me and a legend to Jeff.
The specific memory we shared last night was a time when Thomas and I, at maybe seven years old, literally pushed R.C. by his butt up the stairs in what is now my parents’ house to his then apartment/man cave. Grandpa had a rare form of muscular dystrophy paired with repercussions from a massive stroke; these combined made walking and stair-climbing rather daunting tasks at times, and by his last years, Grandpa was wheelchair bound. We were reprimanded for our valiant display of strength and service of course—what if he had started to fall on the way up? We all could have been seriously hurt! Thomas and I had originally hesitated at his first request for help but Grandpa was a business man with a woo that could make the pope wear nothing but gym shorts to Mass: he won.
I miss that man incredibly. And I miss those silly, fun days with Tom. I hope to always remember them.
Imagine what the disciples must have felt when Jesus was no longer with them. For three days, confused and hurt, they were at a standstill—what just happened? Consider how they may have dwelt in memories of weddings, and miracles, and feasts, and reprimands, and invitations. My Grandpa was just a man, a flawed man, but for them, Jesus! Their Messiah! The promised One! Gone! Few of us have never experienced the death of a loved one; most know the pain of those first few days of loss and acceptance. I wonder what the disciples remembered most clearly. I wonder what they shared as consolation in time together. I wonder if they, like Simba, tried chasing after an old vision, their eyes off the calling and anticipation of reconciliation.
He may have promised His rebuilding of the Temple, His trampling over death, but did they get it? I would bet that Easter hallelujah wasn’t even yet on their sorrowful radar.
What remembrance do you regularly step into? Does it guide you to a truer future or leave you alone in the meadow?
I believe this is our last photo together. He passed away 6 months later.