December 18, 1993 --20 years ago today since you went to Heaven, Stephen Lee Douglas! 20 years you have had to be next to Jesus, to walk on streets of gold, to praise and worship our Lord and Saviour in a way that we cannot here on earth. 20 years of forever. Are you having fun?
So much has happened in the 20 years since you've been gone. The kids are all grown now and have lives of their own. Half of them are married. That half has made you a grandpa and a great-grandpa! Can you believe it?! Can you look down from Heaven and see them all? Can you see Jamie and "Flipper"? They just celebrated 19 years of marriage and have three children, Kole, Kylee, and Kaden. I can see you giving Kole a hard time being a teenager and all and having that awkward Bieber phase. Kylee inherited her mother's aptitude for sports but thankfully makes a beautiful ballerina. I know you would love tormenting her until she whispered a secret to you. Kaden would just make you laugh at how much he loves life and his funny sayings. He is a ball of energy! Skip is such a patient husband and father and such a perfect match for Jamie. Jamie still cries when she gets out of sorts but she's a great mom and wife and aspires to write books some day--all with "Suck It Up" in the title!!! And Jared...he's the preacher boy! I know you would be proud of your preaching marine! I am so glad you knew about Amy. I just wish you could have met her. She's a jewel, for sure. They've spent their whole 19 years of married life serving the Lord in full time ministry. They have two precious girls, Jayden and Allie. Oh the fun you would have playing with these children! Jayden has no fear, and acts like her daddy who acts like his daddy! And Allie is just the cutest 3 year old ever! And Jana. She's one tough cookie, that one! She's worked hard at life and worked hard to be a successful business woman. She's known love and known the heartbreak of losing love to death. Her loss is still fresh so she doesn't understand it all but she has shown grace in the shadow of grief. She makes us all stand a little taller. Little Lukas, who was just a wee baby when you left us, is all grown up and now a father himself to a little boy of his own, Anthony. Can you imagine Jana as a grandma? Not a title she's ready to wear but she makes a great Mimi. Jana also gave us Riley. What a cutie she is. She is just as athletic as her mother and has such a sweet spirit! You would love her! And then there's Matthew. He was just 7 when he had to say goodbye to you. He looks like you, acts like you, writes like you and has the same hairline as you. There's never a dull moment when he's around. He's a lover of life and a (dangerous) thrill seeker. He's a great mechanic and a teddy bear at heart. He is your "mini me". Justin is a sweetheart of a guy. He inherited your romantic nature and your giving spirit. He loves family, cooking, friends, and being a protective watchdog over his little sister. He's head over heels in love right now but only time will tell if she is "THE ONE". If she is, she is a sweetie! And last, but not least, is baby Kimberlee. Only she's not a baby anymore. She grew up and learned to talk and make decisions on her own. She is a beautiful but stubborn soul and doesn't like her brothers to watch over her. She loves children and is an excellent school teacher. She inherited your eyes, your sense of humor, and your "suck it up" philosophy of life. She really stepped up to the plate in caring for and loving sweet Gankie in the last days of her life. You would have been proud! BUT the most important thing that all these children and grandchildren share with you is their gift of eternal life. They have all (except for little Allie and baby Anthony), accepted Christ in their heart. Can you look down from Heaven and see all that you started in these children. Can you see all that WE started? I wonder what 20 years from now will hold? Sometimes, I just wish you could be here for a day......
There's been alot of additions to Heaven over these last 20 years. Do you know when people close to us join you up there? Like Mark, Dwight, Preacher, Hank, Debby, and Pami? Do you know all the precious angel babies from our family? Do you know people you didn't know here on earth that are special to us like Jana's Gary? Do you know Warren, the man who received your heart when you died. 5 and a half years you gave him so he could make his life right with God and find happiness in marriage. And finally, where you there waiting with Jesus when Pops and Gankie made their way to Heaven? That's a reunion I would have loved to see!
20 years! It makes me go, Hmmmm. Time has a funny way of blurring the lines of perception. It doesn't seem possible that you've been gone for 20 years and yet I look at our children (and in the mirror) and I see that indeed there has been some space since we said goodbye. But it also makes me think of all the many blessings that God has added to my life in 20 years. They are too many to list here but God has shown Himself to be a faithful father to the fatherless and a faithful husband maker to the widow. God was there in the midst when you died and He kept His promise to never leave nor forsake us. He has added blessings to our family and sustained us physically, spiritually, and mentally. Speaking of added blessings, God has taken care of your girl! 8 years ago He brought a great man to watch over me. Richard is a kind soul, a patient husband, and a man who loves God. He keeps me straight and loves me unconditionally and with purpose. I am sure you would approve.
Well, I'm gonna go now. We miss you here on earth, Stephen Lee Douglas. But today, I'm gonna remember you with a smile on my face because that was just what you did--make me smile. Tell Jesus I said "hey"!