"I just got a call from the nursing home, they said they have never seen anything like it. He was on his deathbed yesterday, they even called me in to say good-bye. A priest came in and read him his last rites and now he is up and joking around with the nurses."
This was my grandfather on my mom's side, Grandpa Len. He was in his nineties and just an amazing man. He was a priest in the Catholic church until he left in order to marry my grandmother. He loved to golf, was a great story-teller, and even better with jokes. I still remember a magic trick he did for me when I was a little girl where he grabbed a paper bag and pretended to throw something up in the air, then catch it with the bag. He snapped his fingers to make it sound like something landed, but of course the bag was empty… magic!
"Len, you have prayed for me a lot over the years, now you know what you have to do when you get to Heaven… you need to pray for Joy.”
I visited him in the nursing home on Thanksgiving of 2001, later that day I found the lump on my throat (tumor just sounds awful). I visited him again after my hair fell out and I was wearing a wig… he didn't recognize me, but he did talk about me. "You live in San Diego? There is this beautiful girl who lives down there and can you believe it, they told her she has cancer. It's in the lymph nodes," he said to that very same girl. Tears started to well up and I had to say good-bye to him before I started to sob.
After the nursing home called to let Aunt Susan know that Grandpa Len was no longer on his deathbed, she got off the phone and told me what had happened, then she paused and smiled, "You know what? I'll bet you anything he is holding on until he knows you're okay." It was a nice thought, but not a realistic explanation. Then she said that while she was there, she leaned in and said, "Len, you have prayed for me a lot over the years, now you know what you have to do when you get to Heaven… you need to pray for Joy.”
Grandpa Len kept holding on, months passed by and then on Valentine's Day I had a scan to check for cancer. This was the big test, was my cancer responding to the treatment? How much was left? I repeated to myself, "I'm cancer free. I'm cancer free. I'm cancer free," countless times while I was going through my scans.
A few hours later I met with my oncologist to find out the results. I scrunched up my face in anticipation of what he might say, "There is no evidence of cancer in your body." "What? Really?" I asked. "Yes, really. You still have to finish your next rounds of chemotherapy, but the scans show no cancer."
Glee, jubilation, relief were all things I felt. I couldn't wait until I could tell my aunt about my test, when I turned on my phone I saw that I missed a phone call from her. She left this message; "Honey, I just wanted to let you know that Grandpa Len passed today."
Then, her words hit me, "I'll bet you anything he is holding on until he knows you're okay." He died after I had my scans. He literally held on until I was okay. He stayed here on earth a little bit longer and prayed for his granddaughter to get well, up until the very moment that I was well.
Whatever you are going through, no matter how hard things are, there are people out there who love you and care for you and who are rooting for you.
I'm sure to anyone else, this just seemed like a coincidence, but to me it was other worldly. I sobbed whenever I told someone I was cancer free because I had to tell them about my grandfather and how he hung on until he knew I was okay. A blubbering mess would have been an accurate description of my state of mind that day.
I believe that love and prayers can help lift someone up and I believe that everyone's prayers helped me. Whatever you are going through, no matter how hard things are, there are people out there who love you and care for you and who are rooting for you. There are miracles here on earth every day. I truly believe this was one of them.