Granddad lied the day he died…
But now I know, the Truth sometimes hides.
I walked in the room and saw him lying there. I didn’t smile but clenched my jaw to squeeze back the anger, hurt and fear that wanted to find release.
He lifted a little smile the way he always did and then blinked his weathered lids one time—his silent way of saying hi.
I nodded once and remembered in a flash the thousand times I’d done that before. I felt my lips start to lift into that old familiar smile we so often shared, but I looked away—out the window and then to the floor. I pushed my mouth to a frown and dropped into the chair next to his bed. “Why didn’t you tell someone…me?”
He didn’t say anything for such a long time I thought maybe he hadn’t heard.
If you were to take a picture of our eyes—you’d think he looked younger than I. His blue eyes always reminded me of the way a child’s eyes look while they’re laughing. It was hard to look at him and not smile. He was the kind of man who’d say things like, “Why use two words when one’ll do.”
I remember when I was a boy I had gotten real angry at my folks, and told Granddad, “They never listen.”
He had said, “Let your eyes and ears do most of the talkin’ and your folks’ll listen.” I’ll never forget that…it was true. It worked. They let me have that blue heeler pup. One eye was blue and the other was brown. I named him, Blue—after Granddad’s eyes.
I let my eyes return to him. He was staring at the white ceiling above his hospital bed, but as soon as my eyes landed on his face he rolled his head and his blue eyes caught my gaze. I shook my head. “Why didn’t you say something?”
His shoulders raised and then settled back down, his head turned ever so slightly from side to side and then one brow lifted as he pulled in a slow breath and parted his lips. “Nothin’ to tell.”
“Nothin’ to tell? What are you talkin’ about?” I stood and pointed at him, his bed. “You’re in the hospital, eaten up with—” I shook my head because I couldn’t say the word that started with a c because if I did it’d make it true. I swallowed hard and put my hands on his bed rail. “You’re lying on your…bed.” I couldn’t say the d word either.
He smiled. He. Just. Smiled.
“Granddad, why didn’t you tell me you were sick? The doc said you were in pain for a long time.” I looked in those eyes, they were smiling…still. “This is serious. I could’ve come sooner. If you’d have said…we could’ve. We should’ve—”
He rested his hand on mine.
“Every single time I called you’d tell me you were doing fine.” I pulled my hand out from under his and crossed my arms. “That wasn’t true.”
His smiling eyes never wavered. I thought they would. I figured he’d look away knowing he’d been caught in a lie. He told me he was fine when clearly, he wasn’t. He lied. I remember it as clear as day.
Every time I called, I’d ask, “How you doing Granddad?”
And he’d always say the same thing. “Doin’ well. And you?”
I’d tell him about my job and the trouble I was having with my old truck—his old truck he gave me. He’d ask if I wanted to go fishin’. I used to find the time…but it’d been a while. A month or two, or maybe it was last year since I found the time. Or was it the year before? Anyway, he’d always ask the same questions like a stuck record.
“Have you worn that Bible out yet?” He’d given me a leather Bible with my name engraved on the front for a graduation present. Inside the front cover he’d written, “A Bible that’s fallin’ apart is owned by folks who aren’t.” The day he handed it to me he said. “Let me know when you need a new one.”
Whenever he brought that up is about the time I'd change the subject or have to get off the phone. Never thought about it much…but that’s how our phone conversations would go.
Granddad continued to look at me with those blue eyes.
I couldn’t believe what I was about to say to the man I respected more than anyone else in the world. “You lied.” I sucked in a quick breath not believing my ears. I felt a little dizzy and grabbed the bed rail to steady myself. I had to start talking before I started crying. “Granddad you always said you were doin’ well, when you weren’t—that’s a lie.”
He wrapped a strong sun-spotted hand around mine. “It is well.”
“It is well.” I pulled my hand from under his. “It is well? No, it isn’t.” I shook my head and walked toward the door. “If you’re not going to be honest, then there’s no use in even talking—”
He sat straight up in bed and lifted both hands. “It is well…with my soul.”
His smile never faded and his eyes never closed...that was the last words he ever spoke.
I drove home in a blur of angry tears.
It took longer than it should’ve but when I finally found that old Bible and threw it against the wall. “I’ll wear you out now” I shouted. It hit the floor and the back cover flipped open.
There, written in blue were words I’d never read.
If you live your life in such a way
that everyday you can truly say,
It is well, with my soul,
when the day is done
and your work is through,
you’ll be able to hear the words…
~ This is my prayer for you,
Love Granddad ~
It is well with my soul, forever.
~I pray you can say now and forever, it is well with my soul.
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