Grandpa Darrell Remembers… Mercy (part 3)

Grandpa Plinsky

After those intense moments, God’s grace did a healing work helping me to focus more on being thankful for the remaining family members, especially the grandchildren.  God granted strength to free my focus on this horrible death and shift to the life we who remain are called to live.

About two week later, Wanda and I traveled back to Carlton and Kathy’s to help them go through Jamie’s books, clothes, and other possessions. Such a difficult endeavor after any death.  I remembered my own father’s death.  He passed on when I was a young father with only two of our five children born at the time.  My mother told me then, “As hard as it may be, we must get rid of all the clothes and other personal possessions of the dead loved one as quickly as possible to prevent lingering sorrow.”  Although I did not want to forget Jamie, I shared this wisdom from my mother with Carlton and Kathy because they needed to shift their focus from his death to the lives they still had with Michael and Holly as well as with one another.

Death changes people.  And I am not referring to the one who dies.  I observed first hand the damage that can happen at the time of death back in World War II.  While operating a tank, my cousin Gerald was killed in Tunisia, Africa by a German shell.  His death caused his parents great sorrow, especially for his dad- my Uncle Herman.

Uncle Herman’s persisting focus on his son’s death rather than his life contributed to a lengthy time of bitterness.  He harbored much anger toward the Army as well as the War in general.  Later, Uncle Herman made difficult demands on his other, much younger son as though he needed to fill in for his dead brother.  I remember hearing remarks like: “You will never be able to do this work as good as your brother.”  This younger brother spent his life trying to do the impossible, even going to the extent of marrying a young lady who he knew his father liked only to divorce her as soon as his folks died.

This is the result of allowing sorrow to linger too long.  The Bible makes reference to this as “eating ashes” or “feeding on aches.”    We have time to focus on the death leading up to the funeral, but then we must choose to live the life God has given to us.  My own dealing with the finality regarding Jamie’s death came as I pondered the whole situation in my early morning prayers.  The thought came to me vividly, “Jamie is dead.  He is gone.  No way to bring him back…life must go on.”

“Come to me , all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matthew 11:28-29

He really was a thoughtful and kind young man.  I do wish we could have seen him make it to adulthood and live up to his potential.   I remember the good times, and the pleasant things with Jamie.  However, I will not linger my thinking and overly dwell on the sorrow. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  II Peter 5:7   Ultimately, I have been comforted by remembering Jamie’s life and looking to the Lord for His daily guidance.

“Only as we remember and remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness can we ever see the pattern God has woven in our lives and learn confidence in His working.”

Ravi Zacharias Cries of the Heart pg. 25

In the years since, I have spoken often to Wanda, Gretchen and Lori (our daughters) the most about Jamie.  We still remember him with a smile.  My favorite memory of Jamie happened when we were vacationing with Carlton’s family in Hawaii.

As we stood on a high look-out-point, the wind came sweeping across the hill.  We all tensed to the brisk air.  However, Jamie quietly approached me. With his jacket in hand, he lifted and – silently – offered it to me.

Editor’s Note:  The photo collage for this blog entry (see above) includes one of Jamie overlooking a field in Hawaii from that trip.

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For additional reading… Grandpa Darrell is son of Grandma Hazel (Great-Grandmother’s Endurance) and     married to Grandma Wanda (Grandma Wanda… Beyond Brilliance (part 1)).

 

 

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Grandpa Darrell Remembers… Mercy (part 2)

Grandpa Plinsky

The caller?  Our youngest son.  Jamie’s Dad.

He methodically explained all he knew up to that point in time.  I listened.  (What do you do when your youngest son calls to report his firstborn child is gone?  Gone… at his own hand.  What do you do?  Listen.)  Before we hung up the phone, we prayed.  That next morning, Sunday morning, our flight arranged easily as our son worked for a major airlines.  We were grateful for that.  The airlines made the flights, and the employees made it comfortable.  We made our way to Denver.  In shock, I remember meeting family there.  So few details remain.  It was a time of intense sadness.

Several days were spent together with family and relatives awaiting Jamie’s body released from the morgue in the mountains and transported to Denver.  Wanda and I went with Carlton and Kathy to the funeral home to choose a casket and vault.  Over the years, Wanda and I  had buried both our Dads along with a step-father.  In addition, recent to that time, we made all the funeral arrangements for Wanda’s mother, so we had some idea our limited experience would be helpful at such a time.  We appreciated the funeral home representative who was respectful, helpful, and non-pressuring.   He left us alone, so we could take the time we needed to think through all the details.  We are simple people, so deciding how many pillows are sufficient for burial can seem complicated.  Difficult though it was, Wanda and I were thankful we could be of some help in this process.

Then the day came.  All the men of the family went to the funeral home to view the body before the rest. Tears flooded me.  My expression, “What a waste!” A whole, hopeful life ahead.  Jamie was so intelligent and hard-working.  Humble and compassionate.  He could have been a doctor, a lawyer, or a business man, but he did not grant himself the opportunity to live out his capabilities.  Those 17 years were not a waste, but all I could see, as a grandfather at that moment, was all he had ahead of him.  Vanished.

 As written in The Fierce Good-bye: Hope in the Wake of Suicide, a response to a daughter-in-law’s death:

“I stood beside the coffin a few moments, my brain a turmoil of confusion.  Grief, loss, and pity flooded over me, but the most overwhelming feeling was one of waste.  For those who are desperately ill, death can be a welcome relief.  Sudden death by accident or heart failure always shock and devastate.  But suicide, deliberate self-destruction, especially of a talented and gifted young person appalls.  The unfulfilled dreams, the unfinished work, the uncompleted promise, mock like demons.”

The Fierce Good-bye: Hope in the Wake of Suicide G. Lloyd Carr and Gwedolyn C.Carr 27

After those intense moments, God’s grace did a healing work helping me to focus more on being thankful for the remaining family members, especially the grandchildren.  God granted strength to free my focus on this horrible death and shift to the life we who remain are called to live.

continued… Grandpa Darrell Remembers… Mercy (part 3)

Grandpa Darrell Remembers… Mercy (part 1)

 

Grandpa Plinsky.png

“While thoughtful when choosing his words, he confidently spoke in his soft-spoken manner.”

(For Photo Collage Captions, See Notes at the End of Grandpa Darrell’s (part 3)Perspective.)

PERSPECTIVES:

When invited to participate in this perspective endeavor reflecting on Jamie’s life and subsequent suicide, most family members offered openness to share their story.   However, most did not feel either capable or comfortable to write their own perspectives.  Therefore, I sent surveys and conducted oral interviews from their responses.  These were used to establish primary source material from which to write on their behalf in the first person.  In each perspective, you can expect “Reflections on the Interview” and “Brief History.”  Both sections are written in the third person.  Then, the voice will shift to first person for their Perspective.

We welcome you here.  This remains tender space for us.  So join us accordingly.  Know you’re also welcome to subscribe to receive email links as we publish pieces here.

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Reflections on the Interview:

On January 13, 2007 I interviewed both Grandpa and Grandma individually in their home in Wichita, Kansas.  The home in which they raised their family.  Prior to the interview, Grandpa Darrell and Grandma Wanda Plinsky both wrote multiple pages in their own handwriting along with filling out the initial project survey I sent to them.  This made the interview much easier for me as I could just ask them to expound some or recount what they had already penned.

As I was preparing to go on a writing retreat following these interviews, I decided last minute to ask Grandpa to describe himself.  And I love his succinct reply.  Can you tell Grandma Hazel was his Mom?

“Think before I speak.  (Hope what I say is right.)  Much less talkative than my wife.  {smile}”

Grandpa’s ease and peace stood out to me throughout our conversation.  While thoughtful when choosing his words, he confidently spoke in his soft-spoken manner.  Although this conversation, nearly 15 years after Jamie’s death,  Grandpa Darrell did not seem to camp too long on any particular questioning element to Jamie’s depression and subsequent suicide.  His desire:  Remember Jamie.   Be grateful daily to the Lord for His grace, mercy , and constant comfort.

Brief History:

Darrell Plinsky was the firstborn child to his parents, Ernie and Hazel. His family farmed.  He attended a one room schoolhouse from grade school through high school in Beverly, Kansas.  As an athlete, he lettered in basketball, football and baseball.  From what I have been told, he threw a mean knuckle-ball.

He attended Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas prior to farming some for his Uncle Hermon.  Uncle Hermon’s son was killed in Africa while serving in the US Army during World War II.  Eventually, Darrell signed up for the military draft.  He chose to serve in the US Navy.  After bootcamp he was sent to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska where he boarded the ATR-32 ship, a fire fighting vessel, traveling with a fleet of ships bound to bombard the Japanese Islands.

At the end of World War II, Darrell returned to his hometown.  He’d received many letters from Wanda during his many months away.  He made a point to see her the first night home.  Later, they were engaged and married about a year later.  They raised three sons -David, Timothy, and Carlton- and two daughters -Lori and Gretchen.  Darrell also attended Bible College in Colorado.  His spent his working years at Quartzite Stone Co. (two years) and Tweco Manufacturing Co. (37 years).  Additionally, he served at Calvary Bible Church for 50 years.

My Dad (Darrell and Wanda’s second son Tim) shared several observations of Grandpa Darrell during my growing up years.  For example, Grandpa was a morning runner before running was cool.  Additionally, my Dad said he gratefully remembers his Dad getting up before the rest of the family stirred.  He began every day reading the Bible and on his knees in prayer.  This quiet consistency laid a solid foundation for my Dad who did the same for me.

He and Grandma Wanda continue to faithfully pray for their entire family every day, plus any additional heartfelt concerns for any within their circle.  I’m deeply grateful for their persevering love and care for each of us – far and near.

Although retired now and in his 90s, Darrell still maintains home projects although his pace has slowed some.  He and Wanda still live in independently and are a true testimony of consistency and joy to their family.

prepared by Heidi L. Paulec

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Perspective:

Grandpa Darrell Remembers… Mercy

That Saturday evening in January of 1992 found us at our older daughter’s home caring for their children as she and her husband went out for the evening.  Wanda (my wife) answered the phone.  She broke down as she handed the phone to me.  I knew something serious had happened—a critical injury or a death.  Although naturally talkative, Wanda is not one to emotionally react like that without sufficient cause.  The caller?  Our youngest son.  Jamie’s Dad.

continued…Grandpa Darrell Remembers… Mercy (part 2)

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