Not only did Grampa have 105 other people in his family, he could remember each and every person's name. I was told that during his hospital stay, each time someone came in he would grin and call them by name- and then ask, (by name) where their spouse and/or kids were. A solid mind after all those
We didn't get a chance to speak to grampa before he met Jesus, but I think he knew we were there. Stephen, Brynnen and I got to Riverside Hospital (in Ohio) about 10pm on Monday December 19th. My dad had told me several times that day Grampa was tired, he couldn't get rest (Oh, how I know hospitals are NOT restful!), so I was very thankful they had given him a shot to help him sleep through all the commotion. He had been sleeping for about 5 1/2 hours when we arrived. I didn't waste any time hugging Gramma and taking a seat on the other side of the bed. I tousled his hair,(just like every other time, only this time he couldn't swat my hand- "Ha" I told him "one up for me!" He was such a playful guy, you couldn't help but having fun when he was around). I sat down, took Grampa's hand, and just gazed at him- choking back tears. I had never seen my grampa anything but on the go, between barn chores, a garden and general house maintenance, he was always tinkering with something. Shoot, just this summer I had to get on him for painting his deck in the 90+ heat! Stubborn, that's a good word for him. :)
I didn't want to talk very loud, I knew he needed rest- we'd been there about 10 minutes when Gramma said "I think he's trying to wake up!" I was sitting there holding his hand, talking to Amie and Aunt Bonnie- when I looked over, Grampa was now turned toward me- eye's partially opened- but not looking at me, I could only see the whites (yes it was a little weird). What? Oh no! I said "Grampa, stop- we'll be here tomorrow, you need rest!" I have felt the terrible affects of taking a sleeping pill only to be woken up 30 minutes later, and this was WAY stronger stuff!
The next morning I baked some cinnamon rolls we picked up the night before, filled a thermos with some fresh, semi-strong coffee (G&G don't make strong coffee, but the rest of us do, perfect compromise), I was pretty excited to get over there & surprise everyone with these goodies- and see the sweetest man I knew.
On the way I got a message from Amie
"Where are you?"
"On our way, is he up and at 'em?"
"No, and the nurses don't think he will be"
It didn't matter how many times I re-read it- it didn't make sense. Of course he would, it's Grampa- surely he won't die. Now I felt silly since I had a pan of hot cinnamon rolls and a thermos full of coffee. It was so awkward at first, because there were so many people in the room- but once I tuned them out I was able to talk to Grampa, tell him goodbye, thank him for being such a wonderful role model to so many. I also scolded him, because I told him he could leave until I had twins--and clearly, I do not have them. Stubborn. ;)
You always wonder how you are going to get through something life changing, and when it happens, you may look back amazed. I learned this week- God gives you grace, just enough, at the perfect time. At Grampa's viewing and funeral you didn't see a bunch of burdened faces and uncontrollable crying (what I pictured I would be like years ago). Yes we already missed Grampa, but we know where he is. It is only our selfishness that would want him here, believe me I do--but I know he would never choose to come back- neither would I!! We celebrated his life, we told stories and laughed- at one point, my grandmother whispered to my dad "Do you think I'm smiling too much?" (He chuckled and said "No") What a sweet heart, we had everyone that could make it in town- a reunion not planned but definitely enjoyed. I've never spent so much time with my cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins, great aunts and uncles, friends of family, etc- what a blessing that was. Not to be rushed, but to actually have multiple conversations with the same person (With 107 people, when we are all together it's never more than a weekend and if you want to talk to everyone, one conversation, about 15 minutes is all you get!), what a special memory in itself.
So Gramma, I agree with dad-- You smile all you want! Your husband is in the presence of our King! I know days of crying and missing him will come, so for now- You smile and laugh and remember the beautiful moments you shared, alone and with the people who loved you both! I love you so much, and am looking forward to the day we get to sing praises to our God together!