He would have been 100 years old in July, but he died last Tuesday. When we went to see him in the hospital on Sunday, he was heavily medicated and too weak to get out of bed. My brother and I were on each side of him when he asked us to help him sit up. He gripped our hands with a surprising grip like he once gripped his carpenter's hammer. After we did so, we asked him what he wanted.
"I want to go home."
Because he'd previously indicated that he was ready to leave this world, we weren't sure if he was talking about an eternal home with God, or his home of approximately 60 years in rural northwest Alabama.
Either way, I've always associated his land with him. It seemed when I was with him, it was always at the little white church just down the road, or this beautiful place. We walked, hunted, and worked on this land. And when my grandmother was still alive, we feasted like kings on it's produce.
There is a spring behind the house, beyond the barn and down the hill. The spring trickles out of the ground, meanders down a series of moss-covered rocky steps, and blends with the sounds of the breeze blown forest leaves like an orchestra.
As adults, we reunited and reminisced. And when my grandaddy was too old to join us there, we went down to the spring to meditate. We were thankful that God had given him to us, and knew it was almost time to give him back.
So I said one last goodbye to my grandaddy this week, and to this place of peace. As satisfying as this home has been for him, I know that his new one, beyond all imagination, greatly surpasses.