A Great Grandfather’s Gift

In the fall of 1999 my Grandfather laid in his deathbed in a hospital in Frederick, Maryland. I drove up from North Carolina to visit with him knowing that soon he would pass away.

During my visit with Pawpaw he seemed to know about his fate and was accepting of it. We chatted for some time over the few days before his death and he seemed to have few regrets. He never said anything about being afraid of dying. He repeated some stories that he had told me previously about his life.

Now, Pawpaw was hard of hearing and I had to lean down really close to his head as we talked so that he could hear without me talking loud in the hospital. Because he knew I was close to him, he did not talk very loud. He asked me how my job was going and he asked me how my wife was. So I answered his questions and gave him updates on everything that was going on in North Carolina.

I told Pawpaw that my oldest daughter, Jessie, was about to get married. Pawpaw had met Oscar once or twice, but I doubt that he knew that Oscar and Jessie were going to get married, so I told him.

I said to him, “Hey Pawpaw, Jessie and Oscar are going to get married.” I continued with, “They hope to get married sometime early next year.”

He leaned over toward me and said, “That’s great Lee. I’m happy for Jessie.”

Then he got real quiet. He seemed to be thinking for a moment about what I just told him.

Slowly and softly he said, “Hey Lee,” and he paused in mid-sentence as he turned his head slowly to the left and then back to the right to see who else was in the room before he continued on, “I hope she is not getting married for sex.”

He said this to me as if to confirm that this was not the case.

I responded back to him with, “No Pawpaw, I’m sure they are in love.”

“Good, that’s good,” was Pawpaw’s reply. He laid there quiet for a few minutes, and then changed the subject completely.

Now to this day, I wonder, what would Pawpaw’s comment been if I had said they were getting married for sex? I also wonder why this was important for him to ask as he laid on his death bed. I’m sure that it had some relevance to his life as he reminisced over his past 92 years. At that time, it seemed more important to me to let him reflect on the question that he posed, rather than for me to inquire why he asked.

I waited until the spring of 2000 to tell this story to anyone. I shared it with a large group of people, at Jessie’s wedding reception. This story became a wedding gift from Pawpaw to Jessie and Oscar.

Not paper, not wood or metal, just a really interesting story about Pawpaw for Jessie and Oscar. Many years later, they still tear up knowing he cared enouwondered about this.

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