I said good-bye to my Grandfather today. He was 97. His last words were to my Grandmother, the love of his life for 77 years, "I love you, Sweetie." My grandfather was not a perfect man, but if a man’s life is measured by the love he has for his wife, he was a good one.
It was just 12 days ago that Gramps was discharged from the hospital. As he was deemed too weak to return to his assisted living facility I scrambled to find a nursing home near me that would accept him and my grandmother. His long term prognosis was poor as the combination of age, a muscular disorder and perhaps some small stroke had rendered him unable to protect his airway when he swallowed. We all knew it was just a matter of time before aspiration pneumonia would take him.
He was admitted to the skilled nursing facility late on a Saturday. I took my grandmother to visit him the next afternoon. My brother and cousin were there with him when we arrived. Gramps had been dozing off and only marginally engaged in conversation. That all changed when I wheeled my grandma into the room. His face lit up when he saw her, he was fully awake and smiling broadly. I pulled her wheelchair up beside his bed. He quickly took her hand and said, “I love you more than ever!”
For the next 10 days they shared a room together, their beds side by side, TV’s turned on to Fox News, their favorite channel. During the days they went together to physical therapy sessions. She worked on regaining sufficient strength in her leg muscles, he worked to be able to sit up in bed. When she finished her exercises she remained for his session, acting as cheerleader to get him to work harder. The staff told me that he did better when she was there. He always did better when she was there.
She is still there, but he is gone. Now she will have to make do on her own, a daunting challenge after 77 years. It will be a struggle for her but I pray she will find comfort knowing that she was truly and completely loved. Even more, I pray she will rest in the knowledge that she will see him again. When God calls her home, I expect my grandfather’s face will again break into a smile. Heaven will be even more perfect, because she will be there.