Experiencing God at Grandpa’s Deathbed

This is Allison [name changed to remain anonymous] experience of God through caregiving for her grandfather, with whom she was close:

I remember it like it was yesterday. I padded across the tile floor down the hallway and entered the last door, quietly and cautiously so as not to disturb the man lying in the bed. I tiptoed around the room, picking up towels, folding blankets, collecting dishes and wiping off counters, all the while staying a safe distance from the hospital bed that took up most of the space in the already furniture-filled master bedroom. As I tidied the room, I was aware of the rising and falling of my grandfather’s chest, stopping occasionally to check when the all too familiar wheeze of his tattered lungs would sometimes stop, making me pause in my work to be sure he was still breathing. Pretty soon, my mom, aunt, and grandma all filed into the dark depressing room, bustling around and keeping busy while we waited for what we all knew would be coming soon. We all watched and waited for the tattered lungs to inhale, then exhale, while we held our breaths until the next inhale happened again, expecting that his next exhale would be his last.

Several months earlier, my grandparents moved out from Arizona to California so that we could assist my grandma in caring for my grandpa, who has dementia. He needed more care than my grandma could provide for him, such as lifting, bathing and feeding him. My mom, aunt and I took over the major care for my grandpa, so for the next three months, I left for school in the morning, went to volleyball practice, then headed over to my grandparents’ house, took care of my grandpa, then went home to do homework. My mom lived over at her parents’ house for 4 days a week and my aunt for the other three days. During this time, my grandpa was under heavy medication, so he was very sedated, did not speak much, and always had this dull, blank look in his eyes. It was hard to see my extremely intelligent, kind hearted, soft spoken, and funny grandfather in a living coma, with no real spark of life in his once twinkling eyes. There were however, those rare minutes and seconds of the day when a familiar song or smell would appear, and his face would light up. We would dance with him in his wheelchair, laugh with him, and try to live every last moment we had with my dear grandpa. His condition worsened by the day, and his body and mind withered by the minute. Eventually, he became bedridden, yet he still remained cheerful in those occasional moments when his mind would snap back and for a minute, my smiling, cheery, laugh so hard he would cry grandpa would be back with us. But as quickly as it came, his mind would disappear, leaving us in a confused and disheartened state. As I moved around the room, I remember checking every minute or so for the rise and fall of my grandfather’s chest.

One day, when he awoke from his nap, we started to walk towards his bedside to say hello. Just as we reached him, he raised his arms up towards the ceiling and almost seemed to sit up in his bed from a laying down position. His eyes were awake and alert, and his fingers stretched out towards the sky and he began to murmur. I looked to my mom, who looked to my aunt, who looked to my grandma. We immediately began to well up with tears, thinking that he was breathing his last breath. We all crowded around his bedside, and we all put our hands on him. My mom spoke to her father, telling him that it was ok if he wanted to go. She comforted him by telling him we would all be ok, and that he could let go if he wanted. It was at this moment that I suddenly felt the presence of God in my heart, and it was like I could not move. I remember having this overwhelming feeling of love and grace. I was in a shaky place in my faith, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to believe in God because of what was happened to my grandpa. But as he raised his arms toward heaven, I remember thinking, he wants to go home, and at that moment I wanted the same thing as well. To be held in the arms of Jesus was all that I wanted. My grandpa didn’t pass until several weeks later, but that experience with the Lord changed everything for me.

Until this point, my family was not sure where my grandpa was at in terms of his faith with the Lord. It wasn’t until after his funeral when my mom said she wished she had known whether or not he believed on the Lord. My aunt immediately replied, saying that at a church service years ago, the pastor prayed and invited anyone who wanted to, to accept Christ as their Lord. For some reason, she looked over to her parents and saw her father raise his hand. After hearing this, I knew that the Lord took my grandpa to be home with him, and that overwhelming presence I had felt came back, and I knew that God was with me and my family through this time. It was as if the Lord was calling me to his side, and I came, not sure of where to go or what I would do, but knowing full well that He would be with me.