Grandma’s hands

In Loving Memory of Epke Groothof
January 29, 1912 – June 11, 2011

Grandma held on tight. If you shook her hand – or, more accurately if she shook your hand – it was a handshake you would not quickly forget. She shook peoples’ hands like she milked cows: she squeezed for all it was worth. And she hung on for a while as you and her exchanged greetings.  My wife, Monica, learned quickly to adjust the ring on her finger to reduce the imprint it made on her other fingers!

Grandma held on tight to your hands. She also held on tight to her faith. Like Daniel, she took time for personal devotions multiple times throughout the day. Each evening drew to a close with her singing a psalm in Dutch. Following the model and teaching of Jesus, she was devoted to prayer, and we’ve been blessed beyond our knowing by her praying. She used her talent for knitting to create countless scarves, toques and slippers for seafarers, sharing with those in need. Up until a few weeks before she died, she faithfully joined her church family in worship, rejoicing with those calling her to the house of the Lord.

Grandma held on tight to her faith. She was a good role model and profound encouragement for me. She sometimes said that she wished she had the education I have, but I believe her life experiences and her time with God outweigh all the courses in the world I could ever take.

If it’s true that Grandma held on tight to her faith, it’s even more true that her loving heavenly Father was holding on tight to her. Throughout her life, Grandma sensed God’s presence and care. Now she is in his presence, more alive than me and you – healed and whole, rejoicing and worshipping like never before.

I look forward to experiencing that someday, too. In the meantime, I’m grateful for God’s tender loving hold on me (and you!) now and for eternity.


  • Stanley Groothof

    Stanley Groothof is the grandson of the late Epke Groothof who, together with her husband and two sons, immigrated to southwestern British Columbia following World World II. Stanley is married to Monica, has two children, one cat, and serves as a co-pastor at Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Rock Valley, Iowa. This piece was originally published on Stanley’s blog

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