My alarm went off as usual at 5 AM EST. I get up and walk straight to the bathroom. I immediately hear my phone notify me of an incoming text.
"Who is texting me at 5 AM?" I thought.
I pick up my phone and it is from my mom.
"R U Up?"
My heart dropped immediately. My mom never texts me at 4 AM her time, 5 AM my time. Her texts are never like that. I knew it was not good news.
"Yes" I replied and she called.
For the first several seconds all I heard was her crying. I knew something happened to someone. Finally, I was able to gather from he that it was Grandpa. He was life-flighted to Champaign Carle Hospital and he was not going to be here much longer. I gathered something about him falling and blood on his brain.
I got off the phone and dropped to my knees in tears. The man who was my hero was about to leave this Earth and I was not ready for it.
Andrew woke up and knew something wasn't right. I told him that Grandpa-Great's time was almost up on Earth. Andrew had just wrote a Veterans's Day letter about Grandpa. Andrew was turning in his letter to his teacher that day and reading it to his class on the exact same day Grandpa was being called to his eternal home.
I held it together and got the boys off to school and I headed straight to Champaign, Illinois. I had an hour and 45 minutes drive to get there. I cried. I prayed. I just wanted to make it in time.
As I walked into his hospital room, the first person I saw was my younger brother and then my mom. I scanned the room, hugged and cried on my mom and sat by his bed.
The man who I always looked up to had only minutes left with us. I held his hand and watched him breathe. I held the same hand of the man who served his Lord, that served his country and state, and his family. The hand of one of the most incredible man I will ever know.
As I sat at his bedside holding his hand, flashbacks went to the last time I saw him which was October 27th and 28th. My boys and I traveled back to Illinois to visit my parents and grandparents. I have not been able to go back and visit as much lately due to Trenton's needs but I am so glad I made that weekend visit possible.
Grandpa was nearly blind in his final days and we was going in for an eye surgery the following week. The last words Grandpa spoke to me was, "I'm going to tell my surgeon he needs to do a good job on my eye because I have an angel on this Earth and I need to see her face again."
My last words were, "You will see me again, Grandpa. I just know it."
I hugged him and said I love you. That was our last moments together.
I never would have thought the next time I would see him would his final minutes.
My grandfather was an incredible man. He was a man full of wisdom and he was always willing to share what he had learned during his life. There wasn't one time that I have sat down with him through the years and not listened to one of his WWII stories, state trooper stories, or a Bible story. He loved to tell stories and had the best memory of any 90 year old person.
My childhood memories consisted of going camping with him and Grandma to Bluegrass festivals. If I had a sporting event, you can bet him and Grandma were there cheering me on. Anything I did or any of their grandchildren and family did, he was right there supporting, offering advice, and sharing the moment.
The best memory I have with him was the day he baptized me. I was thirteen years old. It doesn't get any better than being baptized by the man who led his family all to the Lord.
I will never forget when I was 19 years old and had to have a very risky 7 hour surgery to help correct my Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. I just woke up from surgery, I could barley breath with my collapsed lung, couldn't move the right side of my body, and one of the first people to walk into my room was Grandpa. Our eyes met and he busted out in tears.He held it together and talked to me for a few minutes and then he had to walk out. He couldn't stand to see me in so much pain
In my college days and in my twenties where ever I moved to, Grandpa was calling the church to make sure someone would make me feel welcomed at my new church. He wanted the elders and the preacher to know that his granddaughter was there and needed to be taken care of. He always took care of me.
It was when I became a mother, that I built a deeper connection with him. I leaned on him in ways that I never thought I would have to.
Trenton was the first person in my family that had special needs. Trenton not only opened my eyes but he also opened the eyes to many of our loved ones and Grandpa was one of them. I will never forget the joy in his eyes on the day Trenton was born. I had lost a baby before Trenton and Grandpa and Grandma wanted to come to make sure everything was going to be alright this time. They made the two hour trip to see my new bundle of joy..the joy that would change our entire family.
The last eight years of Grandpas life, he spent every day praying for Trenton, Andrew, and myself. Grandpa and I had numerous conversations about God and autism. Grandpa supported me in everything I did and helped me in so many ways. When I didn't have a car because all of my money went to therapy for Trenton, my grandparents and parents made sure I got one. Grandpa made sure I was taken care of along with my sons.
"I know you question prayer Angie but keep on praying." He told me one day.
I will never forget the day he told me I was an angel. Grandpa took my hand and started crying, he looked at me and pointed at me with his other hand, "I believe in angels and you are one of them. You are my angel. Everything you do for Trenton. You are my hero." He told me that almost every time I saw him the last few years of his life.
Grandpa believed in me. A Godly man full of wisdom who had fought in war, seen the most horrific situations in his state trooper days, grew up in a time of hardship, but nothing had opened his eyes and gave him a different perspective on life than my son, Trenton.
The last eight years, every time I saw Grandpa, our connection and love grew deeper and deeper. He saw the road I was traveling with autism, he knew the trials God gave me but he also saw my strength and perseverance. He told me all the time how brave and strong I was but I never told him I got my strength from him.I get a lot of my strong personality, strength, and love from the most incredible man I will ever know.
So, as I stood over him while he took his last breath on this Earth, a little piece of my heart went to heaven in that moment.
"I will see you again." The last words I spoke to him. Well, they were actually true words. He might not have seen me anymore on Earth but he will see me again in heaven when we both have no more trials and heartache. Most of all, I look forward to the day Grandpa sees Trenton in heaven....no autism...no tears....just joy!
October 2017 The boys always loved to trick or treat at Grandpa Great's house.
My last picture with Grandpa. This was June of this year.
Trenton and Grandpa's last picture taken. This was June 2018 as well.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
He had the most beautiful funeral I have ever been too. State troopers on guard at his casket, full military rights....it was beautiful.