Hold On! I’m Comin’!
“Hold on! I’m comin’!” The soulful shouts of this Sam and Dave song sounds like the soundtrack that played in my head last Friday evening as I pleaded to heaven and my grandfather for eight straight hours as I drove to Louisiana to meet him.
I never met my grandfather before. Never even heard anything about him growing up, so I assumed he wasn’t living. That is until last year when my mom found out that he was still alive and living in a nursing home in Louisiana. He had been living 30 minutes away from me all that time and I didn’t even know it.
Until recently, my father and grandfather had not spoken or seen each other in over 30 years. I’m not quite sure of the exact reasons why. Maybe my dad was angry with his father because he married and had other children with a woman other than his mother. Maybe he felt he had abandoned him as a child. Or maybe they just lost touch. Either way, my grandfather wasn’t around much. Just as my father wasn’t around for me.
Now, I’ve never had any animosity towards my father. I love him and had always reached out to him over the years, finally establishing a steadier relationship with him just within the past couple of years. And soon, it would be his turn to reconcile with his own father.
My dad moved back to Louisiana last year. His siblings urged him to visit with his father as he was in his 90s and not expected to live much longer. My dad was a bit reluctant because of issues from the past he was holding on to, but he was reminded by my mom that he should forgive his father as I had forgiven him…for they both were not around for their sons. Besides, this was a good time and opportunity to make amends before it was too late.
And reconcile they did. My father began to go visit his father more often. I’m not sure of the depth of their relationship, but the fact that there was one is good enough. Hey, any connection in attempt to love is a good one, right? I think so.
Ever since I found out my grandfather was alive, I was anxious to meet him. There was so much I wanted to ask and learn about him and his life. And even if he could not tell me those things, I would have been happy just to connect with him. I wanted to take a picture with him and my dad to show my future children so they could see where they came from…different generations of men who overcame and broke curses and bad habits of absenteeism. I was excited about the idea and constantly thought of making it happen.
I put off the trip for a few months. Soon my grandfather grew sick and was getting worse. Last week, my mom called to let me know that his condition was getting worse. Something told me to go ahead and do what I had said I would do. Now was the time. So, I made plans to visit my grandfather and meet him for the first time this past weekend. But there was a problem.
Just as I got on the road to Louisiana, my mother called to let me know that according to the doctor, my grandfather wasn’t expected to make it through the night. I was nervous. Afraid I would miss an opportunity. Now I HAD to make it. So, I floored it all the way from Atlanta to Louisiana praying I would make it in time….and that I wouldn’t get a ticket.
I prayed that my grandfather would hold on until I made it there. I just wanted to say hello and shake his hand. That would have been enough for me. I kept thinking of what I would say and how I would say it. Playing it all over and over in my head. Yet, in the back of my mind, I was afraid….afraid I’d miss my chance to meet him.
After 8 hours, I finally made it. But I couldn’t reach my dad or my uncle to find out what hospital my grandfather was in. So, I called my mom who could barely remember but believed he was in a certain facility. So, I called. They checked their records and let me know that my grandfather had been released back to the nursing home. I thought “Yes!” Now, I just need to call the nursing home to find out what room he’s in and the visiting hours.
I called the nursing home and asked if Esau Jackson was there. The lady said yes then put me on hold. Another lady answered the phone and asked if she could help me. I said “Yes, I’m holding to see if you have a Mr. Esau Jackson there.” And in a desensitized tone, the lady said, “Mr. Jackson passed away last night around midnight.”
I paused for a moment…let out a sigh…thanked the lady, then hung up. I was heartbroken. I was too late. Then the “If only I hads” set in. If only I had gotten on the road a few hours early. If only I had taken off work. If only I had made this trip earlier. But that does nothing. It won’t change anything. He’s gone. I look towards the silver lining and move forward, knowing that beneath all heartbreak and disappointment is the silver lining bears lessons of acceptance of death and the value of life. Once the smoke clears, I will see it. But for now….I mourn.
Granddad, even though I did not know you, you are still a part of me. Your life was valuable and I pray that you died satisfied with it. I hope to learn your story over time and I promise to share it with my own children so that you will never be forgotten. Rest well. Sorry I didn’t make it in time. I love you.
It was a sad time. But that wasn’t the end of it. For not only did my grandfather pass away, but his oldest son (of the same name) passed away the following morning of cancer. Then, later that evening, my mom’s best friend of many years passed away. Needless to say, it was a tough weekend. But we shall persevere. May my grandfather Esau, Uncle Esau, and Mrs. Teresa rest in peace. We remember them and celebrate their lives.
I ask that you please pray for my mother, father, and family that we will maintain peace and hope in the midst of sadness and sorrow. Thank you.
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