A Surprise Visitor

Published 7:35 am Saturday, March 18, 2017

Editorial by Robin Zaruba


Death paid us a surprise visit recently. He and his surprises are always most unwelcome. Even if a patient is suffering and their death a relief to them, it is still seldom welcomed. But I take consolation in the fact that at least God is not surprised when a bright light is too soon dimmed by death’s hand.

My wife’s grandmother, Verna Hutto of Mauriceville, passed from this life into the arms of her Savior Jesus just a few days ago. She reminded me a great deal of my own grandmother who has been gone many years now. Verna was the quintessential matriarch, always holding the family together, near or far. She helped just about every person who crossed her path. Her home was always the central gathering place for all-important family celebrations. You know what I’m speaking of, because you probably have a strong, sweet woman like that in your life, or wish you did. Verna could be stern if needed, but she was almost always the brightest light in any room, mellowing with age into one of the most delightful women I have ever known. In fact, Verna was one of the reasons I married my loving bride. I felt I could count on the fact that my wife would land not too far from the character of her good, godly grandmother. And now she’s gone, and it all seems like it happened too quickly.

2011 was the last time I tasted the bitter loss of a loved one. That July we received the dreadful news that my father had succumbed after a heart attack. My father and mother, Al and Anita Zaruba, bought and ran Al’s Grocery in Little Cypress for almost 20 years as my brother and I grew up. And suffice it to say that growing up between the country (Mauriceville) and the city (Orange) was pretty great. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But my father’s death made that sweet nostalgia all the more painful to remember. In fact, it is safe to say I was not only surprised by his death, but add to that dismayed, grief-stricken, confused, and heartsick. We once half joked that dad would outlive us all. So full of life and happiness, so ready to see what lay ahead. In addition to my brother and I, he practically helped raise the neighborhood kids in Kinard Estates as well. That massive heart attack changed everything. The unmerciful jerk of that kind of news is not something one easily forgets. But through those first terrible days I was comforted by the idea that God was not at a loss as to how to respond in that dark hour. It’s not like my father’s death snuck up on the Almighty. If so, he is a poor God indeed. And it’s not like He wasn’t prepared to receive Grandma Verna into His loving embrace. But the same can be said of God’s plan for humanity. It’s not like things got out of hand on planet earth around 4 B.C. and He said, “Well I’d better send in my Son because this whole Old Testament thing is not going to work.” No, God knew, from the foundation of the world. And because he sees the end from the beginning, we can be comforted that nothing can overtake us, because God is standing ready. Nothing can approach us that God, in his sovereignty, has not already foreseen; and for which he is not already prepared to give comfort, for Death is never a surprise visitor where the Almighty is concerned.

Sweet sleep, my loves. Rest in peace until we meet again.