I sat with him in his back room. He on his burgundy plush lift chair, feet propped up, water jug at his side. I on the floor next to him leaning my head against his knee. He settled his good hand on my hair and sighed.
“Remember when you were little and I held you?”
I remembered. I could still smell his aftershave and hear his heart beat. I could feel his strong arms and hear his laughter.
“Those were some of my favorite moments.” He added.
“Mine, too, Pappy.” Oh, how I loved being with my Pap!
He started reminiscing. Something he is wont to do whenever I am with him. Memories floated over us as we laughed and talked and danced over time.
Then he sat quiet. “I don’t want to leave here.” I thought he was talking about his home, a little independent living cottage. I know he’s afraid the next step in assisted living is near. His health is ailing… my Nanny’s health is ailing. Life continues to slam into them.
I looked at my Pappy. Partially paralyzed now for over 25 years. He has suffered more heart attacks and strokes than I can remember. And he has fought for life. Because he loves so deeply.
“You know,” he smiled, “The good Lord has never let me down. I sit out there,” he pointed to the living room, “every morning and we meet together. I read and pray and He’s always there. He hasn’t let me down yet.” I looked at his leg braces and his hearing aid and his wrinkled skin. I looked at his lifeless hand and his crooked smile. I looked at his cane and his wheel chair.
“I don’t want to leave here,” he said again, “But if the good Lord leads me elsewhere. I’ll go. I go where he takes me. And one day He’ll take me home. Until then, I’ll just follow.”
I cried, wetting his knee with my tears, but I don’t think he knew. I cried for all that he had endured in this life, for all he had lost–the wiffle ball games he could no longer play, the snowmen he could no longer build, the foods he could no longer enjoy, the beach trips he could no longer travel. And I cried for his love and his faith and his strength, and my grateful heart overflowed that I have a grandfather who is so beautiful and wise and strong.
He had lost so much in life.
But he had never lost his faith. Or his love.
I want to be like my Pappy when I grow old. I want a legacy of faith. I want to remember and smile. And I want to be real about life. And I want to be ready to go wherever God takes me.
I want to just follow.
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