Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Goodbye Grandpa

Today is a day that I hoped and pray would never come.

I know that's silly -- death is part of life. It's going to happen to all of us at one point or another. However, that doesn't make it any easier.

Today we lay my grandpa, Julius Wernsman, to rest. He'd been fighting a hard battle the last couple of years and God decided it was time to give him eternal rest.

There is no doubt in my mind that my grandpa is in heaven (with my grandma) right now. My grandpa was the sweetest (albeit orneriest -- more on that in a sec), hardest working, and most faithful man you could ever know. He flew planes over Germany during WWII, managed a sprawling farm for decades, raised 9 amazing boys, loved his wife of 65 years unconditionally, took care of my Uncle Mark after he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, and cherished his Catholic faith. 

Everyone who knew my grandpa loved and respected him -- he was funny, generous, humble, and extremely intelligent. I will never forget his distinct laugh, stories, and love of Louis L'amour (you could always find him reading in his chair). Up until he turned 90, my grandpa even walked close to 3 miles a day -- that man put this 25-year-old granddaughter to shame in terms of endurance! 

I have several favorite memories of my grandpa but have to share this one that fully conveys his orneriness. I don't think I've ever talked about it before but when Brandon and I first started dating, we had our fair share of family hardships (a few days before Brandon and I met, my grandma suffered a stroke; when Brandon returned home from Afghanistan, my dad fell off a roof and was in the hospital for several weeks; a few months later, my grandma was backed into by a car, fell, hit her head, and passed away a few days later due in part to the blood thinners she was on from her stroke; and then a month after that, Brandon's uncle was killed in the line of duty). Brandon was first introduced to my extended family when we were in the hospital after my grandma's accident -- she had been unconscious since falling and the doctors said it was only a matter of time. 

Several family members were gathered in my grandma's room visiting, praying, and reminiscing when Brandon and I somehow got on the topic of Pepsi vs. Coca Cola, which lead to us betting over whether or not we could tell the difference between the two. So off to the hospital vending machines my brother, Brandon, and I went! We poured samples of the two into several cups so that everyone in the room could have a chance to participate -- it was a great way to lighten the mood for a few minutes and made everyone laugh. 

When it was Brandon's turn to guess, he stepped out into the hallway so he couldn't see what was being poured into which cup -- being the hilarious person that I am, I decided to pour Pepsi into both cups just to see if he'd notice. A few people saw me do this and laughed to themselves, and I noticed my grandpa look on without smiling or saying anything. When Brandon got the okay he came back into the room, took sips out of each cup, contemplated, and started to give me his answer when I hear a voice say, "What did you do? Pour the same thing into both cups?" 

It was my grandpa! He was calling me out in front of everyone! 


He just looked at me, cocked his head, raised his eyebrows, and shrugged. 

"Brother's in arms have to stick together!" Brandon exclaimed, receiving a nod and a chuckle from my grandpa. 

That's the grandpa I will always remember -- funny and ornery! Another memory I have from that day is my grandpa (with tears in his eyes) praying over my grandma; it was such a powerful, emotional, and beautiful moment that I will never forget. That same day was their 65th wedding anniversary -- a day we had planned to celebrate with a big party. 
This picture just reminded me of another story -- Jax cried through most of his baptism so I kept moving and bouncing him which lead to my grandpa whispering (he had a hard time hearing so his whispers were actually shouts) "What's she doing up there? Churning butter?" 
My grandpa is one of the greatest men I have ever known and I feel so blessed to have not just known him, but to have called him grandpa. Rest in peace, Grandpa -- you have worked hard your entire life and now God has granted unto you Eternal Rest. Thank you for the example that you set for your sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, family, friends, and community. You will live on in our hearts, thoughts, stories, and prayers forever. 

I love you, Grandpa. 

Goodbye for now. 


  1. This is such a sweet post, I'm sorry for you loss, but I'm happy that he's definitely in a more comfortable place now. I love the churning butter comment!

  2. Which is better Coca-Cola or Pepsi?
    ANSWER THE POLL and you could get a prepaid VISA gift card!


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