My Grandaddy fell unexpectedly ill a few months ago. He bravely fought a horrible infection, until it became clear that he was not to be long on this earth.
When I think about the day he died, I feel a sense of peace, although it is so, so hard. There are so many things I am thankful for. He didn’t have to linger in pain or suffering. The Lord graciously answered a prayer in allowing him to be moved from a horrible hospital into one that did all they possibly could do to save him and help him to heal. Every single person we encountered there were so very gracious and so tender in their care. I saw nurses fight tears themselves as they poured their lives out for others- it was amazing.
I got to watch my parents work as a beautiful team. I’ve always admired the relationship that they have. They are married, but they are best friends too. I saw the tender looks pass between them as they comforted each other while watching my grandfather decline. I watched my dad be such a strong rock as he watched his dad slip away. I am so grateful that God allowed my dad to be home so much over this summer so that he could spend the time with my grandfather. When Daddy couldn’t be at the hospital, my mom was there. She sat there day after day overseeing what was going on and caring for my grandfather as if he was her own father. Watching the love and care radiate from her was so beautiful that it made me cry. My grandfather called her “his assistant” the entire time he was at the hospital. He called her his daughter, not his daughter-in-law, for as long as I can remember. He acted as a father figure in my mom’s life, and loved her as if she was his own. <3
They called the family in on September 9th, and let us know he was slipping away. We were able to go and be with him through that entire day. Once again, I was so impressed with the care of the nursing staff who were tending him. They were so gentle and careful, and were doing everything they could to make sure that he was comfortable.
At one point, a lady came in and played music on her guitar and sang to him. I will never again hear “on the road again” and “walk the line” without remembering this day. The calming presence that settled over the room was such a marvel to me. This particular experience was a realization to me that it is important I use my music as a ministry to others. I am praying about how to put that in place.
As the hours passed, more and more family arrived and surrounded his bedside. I am thankful for technology that allowed us to webcam with extended family who weren’t able to come.
Later on that evening, he slipped away to heaven to join my grandma, my great-grandparents, my precious babies, and so many other dear ones, surrounded by those who loved him most. I can’t imagine a more calm and peaceful homecoming.
I’m at the point in the grieving process where it still seems so surreal, and then when reality kicks in, it hurts so badly that it catches my breath. Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so many other things will not be the same without him here to be with us. I know that it was his time, and that the Lord’s ways are higher than ours, but that doesn’t make it easier for those of us who were left behind.
The most important thing that I want to mention is that we experienced the Lord answering a huge prayer. We have prayed for my grandfather’s salvation for many, many years. We’ve been burdened over his heart and not knowing where he stood on things. As it was becoming apparent that he was slipping away, I shared with some close friends and my church that the thing that was burdening me the most was the fact that we didn’t know if he had a relationship with Christ. My dad was able to discuss it with him over the weeks they spent together at the hospital and he made a profession of faith. I am humbled by the Lord’s mercy and provision.
My dad asked if any of us might like to share at Grandaddy’s funeral. I’m going to conclude this post with a slightly edited version of what I read at his funeral. <3
My Granddaddy has always been a special and important part of my life. One of my earliest memories of him was from when I went to visit at his and Grandma’s house, and he asked me what kind of cereal I might like for breakfast. He gestured up to a shelf in their kitchen where there were at least 10 different varieties of cereal. I can remember just being so impressed as a little girl that anyone would have that many kinds of cereal on hand and ready to go.
As years passed, Grandaddy continued to be a strong and steady, yet gentle and humble man in my life. I am so thankful that God blessed me with him. The care and work that he and Grandma poured into my dad has been something that has blessed me for all of my days.
Grandaddy loved family. When we would have our big family get-togethers, like any good southern family, we always had a lot of food, and to make cleanup a bit easier, we always would use disposable silverware and plates. He would always take whatever silverware he used and put it in his shirt pocket to take home. After several years of him doing this, I finally asked him one day what he did with all the silverware. He told me that he takes it home, puts it in a jar, and that every time he looked at the jar full of spoons and forks, he remembered the happy times of getting together and enjoying good food. My mama’s mom taught me to make deviled eggs when I was around 9 years old. Her reasoning? She knew Granddaddy and Daddy loved them, and thought it would be a perfect way for me to have a holiday “signature dish”. Even now that I am married, I bring deviled eggs for Grandaddy and Daddy (oh, and the rest of the family too!), to all of our holiday get-togethers.
Grandaddy loved chocolate, and he never, ever turned down dessert. My family so loved feeding him when he would come over. Never have you seen someone so excited for a home-cooked meal.
My love for John Phillips Sousa and vinyl records surely comes from him, as does the love of cheesy jokes. He passed his sense of humor on to my father, who passed it down to me. I so loved bantering back and forth with him once I was old enough to know how.
My grandfather was an honest, hard-working man. Life was never given to him on a silver platter, and yet, he never complained. He simply did his day-to-day tasks, and did his best to help others whenever he was given the opportunity. Even on his deathbed, he was saying “thank you” to the folks around him as they tended him. I’ve met only a handful of people as humble and gracious as he was.
Grandaddy was also a father to the fatherless. Watching the relationship he and my mama shared, and seeing him step in as a father figure in countless other situations, has been absolutely beautiful to observe. Throughout my entire life, he has always helped others.
He loved babies and children. Whenever he found out I was in labor with my firstborn, Oliver, he came up to the hospital fairly quickly and stayed there until we were settled into a room. He was so excited about the generations continuing to go forth in the family. Growing up, I can remember that each time one of my siblings would arrive, he would always come up to the hospital to meet the new little one. Babies were always so calm and collected with him- I think they knew they were well-loved and safe in his arms. Some of my very favorite photos we have of him were taken of him holding his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He always got the softest, sweetest look in his eyes when he would talk about Grandma. You could tell that even many years later, she still had his heart. He remained faithful to her and her memory for all of his days. Their marriage was a beautiful example of lovers and best friends. Looking back through the old pictures of them over this past week has made my heart smile so big. When he talked about passing from this life into the next, he spoke so much of going to be back with his Jeannie again. He loved her so very much. Watching that love play out over the years,has been absolutely beautiful.
I love you, Grandaddy.