James William Terry was a doctor, an influential member of the Christian Businessman Association, a Bible study leader, loved all things DisneyWorld and had a knack for making the best milkshakes ever.
More importantly, he was a son, a brother, a father and my grandfather. He loved my grandmother and he loved his kids and grandkids. When I was little, he would tell me every time they visited that he loved me and he was praying for my future husband.
I'm so glad that Jon got to meet Tapa.
Most importantly, though, he was a Christian. Everyone around him knew how much he loved Jesus. Next, they found out how much he loved his wife and then the person meeting my grandfather would be quizzed about their priorities. Tapa was a doctor during business hours, but a missionary and a marriage counselor 24/7. In a small town in Missouri, Tapa helped start a citywide prayer breakfast that ended up drawing over 1500 people.
He retired early and he and my grandma traveled and visited grandkids. Nama and Tapa spoiled us rotten and we loved every minute we got to spend with them. For a couple of years, they would come for a week in the summer and stay in a short-term furnished apartment and me and my siblings would each get to spend a day alone with them. We loved it.
A little less than ten years ago, Tapa started forgetting things. First, it was little things like people's names. Then, it was bigger things like where he left his wallet. Finally, it was essential things like talking and walking. These last ten years have been the hardest for my grandma, my mom and her siblings, the in-laws and the grandkids. Tapa had Alzheimer's.
Some of the sweetest and hardest lessons I've learned about marriage, love and Christ have come from watching Nama and Tapa - both growing up and over these last few years. Nama has taught me more about the selfless love of Christ than she'll ever know.
Today, my grandpa finally got to meet the Savior that he loved and served. Face to face. He's whole again - he's no longer confused, he's no longer wordless. In fact, I bet he's singing the praises of His Creator right now. Tapa always loved to sing.
I can't wait to see him again. I can't wait for the day when we can have another long conversation and an even longer hug. I can't wait to tell him all about how I grew up out of my awkward teen years, how I met Jon, and how he was exactly the man that Tapa prayed for.
God has a purpose in everything, even in something as horrific as Alzheimer's. He has a plan that He is working, even through years of sadness, through a decade of tears.
I've been missing you for ten years, Tapa. Words can't describe the joy I have because you are home and happy and healthy again. I love you.
Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting? But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.