I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine.
It was a rainy Friday in early October. I was still on maternity leave and had already made the short trek to my mom and dad’s house. I went to their house on this particular Friday because Matthew wouldn’t be home until late that night due to a game out of town. Plus, my mom had told me that if I came up early, I could take a nap and she would watch my baby. To a new mom, this is music to the ears. So, I made the short journey an hour north late Friday morning.
I pulled up in my parent’s driveway and started to unload the many bags I had for a short overnight stay. You know what they say… when you have a baby, you pack the house. I am certainly no exception to that rule.
I hadn’t been at my parents for long when I got a call from Matthew. Sometimes, Matthew will call me during the day on his break, but it’s pretty rare. It’s even more rare on “game day.” I could hear the urgency in his voice. “Are you at your mom’s?” “Yes,” I replied. “Are you okay?” “Yes, but mom, dad, and Papa have been in a car accident.”
Matthew’s parents live in South Georgia, about 5 hours away from us, and were on their way to a town about 2 hours away when they had a car accident. My immediate reaction was to ask if everyone was okay. Matthew had limited details due to the fact that the accident had just happened and we were not close by. I asked him if we need to leave right away but he told me no. He had wanted to wait until there were more details. We did know that his grandfather was in serious condition, but we didn’t know to what extent. About an hour later I got a call from Matthew’s mom. Papa had passed away due to a medical event that happened at the time of the accident.
I had just seen Papa the week before. He had come to my house, along with Matthew’s mom and dad, for a visit. He adored Lydia Grace. In fact, he credited himself for the day she made her big arrival to the world. He would often wear a Navy hat that Matthew had bought for him since he was a veteran. The day before Lydia Grace was born, Papa said, “I’m going to wave my hat toward this baby (pointing to my large belly) and she will hear me and make an appearance.” Needless to say, it must have worked because she came about 8 hours later. I treasure the picture I have of Papa and Lydia Grace in the hospital room after she was born. He was wearing that same Navy hat.
It is an incredibly odd feeling to know you saw someone the week before sitting in your living room and the next thing you know they are no longer living on the earth. Life can certainly change unexpectedly and without warning.
I called Matthew back and asked him if we needed to leave right away to head down to South Georgia. Matthew’s dad was in the hospital, and while he did have injuries, he was stable. Matthew told me he wanted to go to the game because in his heart he knew it was the right thing to do.
We were new to the Dalton coaching staff, but in no way did Matthew feel like he had to choose the game over an urgent situation. It was more of a “I’m going to honor my Papa” moment. I have to say something about our coaching staff. I have never been part of a family like the one at Dalton. They showed us nothing but love and support during a difficult time. Dalton won the game that night and we felt like it was a victory to honor Papa. He loved watching his grandsons play football and then coach. That moment was a bright spot to a very sad day.
We made the journey south the next morning. We reminisced about Papa’s life and the dramatic change he had made in his faith two years before his move to Heaven. Papa didn’t really want anything to do with God a few years prior to his passing. I don’t think that he necessarily had anything against God or Christianity, but he just didn’t make it his own. That is, until his precious wife, Matthew’s grandmother “nanny” and Lydia Grace’s namesake, passed away. Papa loved his wife. He adored the ground she walked on. She was not just his wife but his best friend. When she died, part of him died, too. Jesus became a huge part of Papa’s life after nanny’s passing. He became alive again. He was rejuvenated. There was literally a bounce in his step. He missed his companion, but he had hope that he would see her again. He was just different in the most beautiful way possible. He glowed. That zeal never left him from that moment until the time he met Jesus face to face.
A few weeks after his passing, Lydia Grace was to be dedicated (our church’s version of a christening). We could definitely feel Papa’s absence that day, but there was also the most beautiful peace. I can’t explain it. The whole day was full of so much joy at a time when we had experienced a great loss. After our church service, Matthew’s parents and mine came back to our house and we had a wonderful time of fellowship over lunch and it almost felt like Papa himself was there with us. Maybe he was.
Our lives would once again change in just two short weeks. November 17 to be exact.
Part III coming soon.