Grandpa Great had gone to Heaven.
Courtney and I called my mom to come stay with the girls, and we rushed to the hospital. As we gathered in the emergency room with Grandma Great, Grandma J, and other family members, we couldn't help but feel the spirit that filled the entire room. A spirit of love. Peace. Sorrow. And gratitude. Gratitude for having known such an amazing man.
That night was a spiritual experience for me, so I won't write too much about it, other than to say I was so touched by the fact that even in death (perhaps especially in death) Grandpa made a statement about what mattered the most. He loved his family. And even though his departure came unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, we watched the room quickly fill with grandchildren, some driving as far as an hour away in the middle of the night, just to be there. One after another, we all came to say goodbye. Because in our hearts, we knew he loved us the most.
More than anything else, he loved us the most.
Thank you Grandpa Great. Thank you for all that you taught us. For the expressions of love, laughter, praise, and encouragement. For always making us feel like we were the most important thing in the world. Like there wasn't anyone else. Any thing else.
At Grandpa's funeral, this common statement of Grandpa's was remembered often. "If I had a million bucks and I didn't have my family, I wouldn't have anything". He was always saying things like that. He loved his family so fully, so completely, that he was a wealthy man after all. And to be sure, no man was ever more loved.
That night I witnessed the truth of what he had been trying to tell us.
You had it all, Grandpa. You had it all.