I love my grandfather.
I grew up a mile down the road from my grandparents, and I often walked to their house for adventures only grandparents and their grandchildren can appreciate. In turn, my grandfather would often take early morning walks to our house, tweed cap, leather jacket, and sweet hickory pipe in tow.
My grandfather knew how to roll.
We grandkids started calling our grandfather “Ahh” from an early age, because whenever one of us raised our voice or left a mess or did something otherwise mischievous, we heard his outcry like clockwork: “Ahhhh!”
Two Fridays ago — on a Good Friday that was anything but good — Ahh suffered a mild stroke. He was rushed to the hospital where it was later determined he’d endured some bleeding in his brain. The good news was that the bleeding was contained. The unfortunate news, that the containment area affected his speech and memories.
He couldn’t recognize his own family. Couldn’t speak a single word on Saturday — the “sandwich day” on Easter Weekend regarded in Christian circles as “Silent Saturday.” The hopeless day when followers of the supposed now slain savior, Jesus, were all left wondering…now what?
After being unable to speak a word on Silent Saturday, my grandfather was eerily able to speak again on Easter Sunday. His first words since the stroke on Good Friday. His speech was limited, but it was speech nonetheless.
I called my grandfather on Easter after hearing the news he could speak. The conversation started like this:
“Hello?” His voice. The voice of Ahh.
“Hey Ahh! Are you okay I love you how are you I’ve been praying for you my whole church is praying too and I love you.”
I bit my tongue after blurting out entirely too many words. He’d just suffered a stroke, for gosh sake. What was I doing, cramming 10 sentences into a single breath?
Then he spoke. Spoke with a noticeable slur.
“Lllisten to me, Tom…”
I pressed the phone closer to my ear.
“Listen to me, Tom…”
“Listen to me, Tom…”
He repeated himself two, three times, and I anxiously awaited the conclusion of his sentence, my heart breaking because I’d never heard my grandfather struggle to say a word in my life.
Ahh has lived an epiK life. A man who’s literally traveled the world speaking the awesome stories of God. This past fall, he and my grandmother ventured to southern California, and I was blessed to hear some of his supernatural stories firsthand as he spoke to a full crowd at a Catholic nursing home.
Even in non-public settings, I’ve sat in awe of Ahh’s storytelling. Have listened many times to the mind-bending story of how he first met my grandmother in a sort of prehistoric form of eHarmony. A mind-bending story that has directly impacted my very existence two generations later.
Much of Ahh’s legacy resonates with his command of the spoken word.
This past Good Friday, the spoken word was taken from him. Stolen all day Saturday.
But then the tomb was rolled away on Sunday. An Easter awakening, of sorts.
I don’t know how this story ends. Ahh’s story. How his ongoing therapies will impact his ability to speak and function the rest of his life — however long God has written his earthly story to be.
Whether my grandfather lives another twenty years or twenty mere minutes, I’m convinced of something beyond evident: God’s glory is epitomized in the life of this single man. An amazing man who has impacted countless lives the world over.
A man who drove me and my sister to school on many frigid Northeast mornings.
A man who emailed me in the aftermath of my dog’s death and said he believed in me. That more importantly, God did too. That I should never give up on God.
A man who’s gone out of his way multiple times to call me and leave voicemail messages saying he loves me and is praying for me. Praying every single day.
A man who inspires me to use not only the written word but also the spoken word for God’s glory. God’s story.
Ahh was never able to finish his sentence for me on the phone. I may never know how he meant to conclude those four words.
I’m listening, Ahh. Listening for God’s glory to continue being epitomized in your life.
Listening every step of the way.