Submitted by Julie James
November 2009

grandfather_walkingRecalling childhood memories often bring to mind warm, secure, happy thoughts of our loving grandparents. They influence our lives in a way our parents cannot. Quoting the famous author Alex Haley, “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” Whether it was for a summer or for frequent regular visits, spending time with our grandparents allowed us a different look at life. As children, we were able to see firsthand the values that our parents tried to teach us, simply by spending quality time with the very ones that taught them.

Growing up Julie was fortunate to have Grampa on her father’s side of the family and Grandmother and Granddaddy on her mother’s side. Grampa still worked and he traveled frequently with his job as a printer, but whenever time allowed he would show up unexpectedly at Julie’s house. There were many times when they would come home to find him on the doorstep. Her mother would look at her and say, “You’ve been praying again haven’t you?” Julie’s response was a simple smile and a nod of the head. He spent as much time as he could with her and she loved him dearly.

Julie would never forget that day. It was a cold winter morning when she was awakened by people talking. It was not yet daylight so they were speaking in hushed voices. She could tell by their tone something was wrong. It wasn’t an easy thing for a six year old girl to understand. Overcome with sadness, all she could do was find an out-of-the-way corner to try and console herself as the adults went about the business of “making arrangements.” Julie missed her Grampa for many years after that, but found solace in the wonderful memories of him she kept in her heart.

Maybe it was because of the loss she had experienced, but now more than ever she wanted to be closer to and spend more time with her Granddaddy in Mississippi. Her grandparents lived in a small town where everyone knew each other. A very relaxed and peaceful community, it was the complete opposite of the hustle and bustle of her city life just outside of Chicago. Julie would spend at least two weeks on the farm every summer. It was a chance for her go see all her “cousins” and spend time with her Granddaddy. She eagerly worked alongside him in the garden picking vegetables, although she seldom ate them! What she enjoyed the most were their long walks down a long dusty road she knew as “Granddaddy’s Road.”

Her Granddaddy was a big man and although he was tall and portly, he always had a walking stick with him on their journey. It became a ritual to stop at the small store in the center of their route to buy ice cold bottles of pop. Her favorite was Grape Nehi or Root Beer. Many happy memories were born from those lazy days of summer spent with her grandparents. Maybe there is truth to the quote that “grandparents sprinkle a little stardust on the lives of their grandchildren” because that was such a magical and joyful time in her life.

It had been sixteen years since Grampa had died and Julie was no longer a little girl. In fact, she was married now. She and her husband had gone to bed the night before when Julie found herself face to face with her Grampa again. He had come to her in a dream. Wanting to remember everything, she sat very still as she listened intently to him. He spoke as if he had never left her. He told her that she was going to be okay. He hugged her and then he was gone.

She awoke from the dream as the phone rang. Her husband reached over to answer the call. “It’s your Mom.” Instinctively Julie knew her Granddaddy had died and she told her husband that before she took the phone. She spoke briefly to her mother and after she hung up Julie recounted the dream to her husband. Apparently, her Granddaddy had died at the exact same time that her Grampa was visiting her in the dream. That was what he had meant when he told her that she would be okay. He had come to prepare her and impart to her the peace and understanding that she had felt with him as a child.

Julie and her husband attended the funeral and were amazed by the outpouring of love. People were there from all over the area. Most of which had been touched by his life in some way. The testament to how he lived was evident all around. One thing he had insisted on was no black widow’s garb. Only colorful dresses were to be worn by the women. Although the sadness could be seen on all, from the young pall bearers and the grandsons to the white-haired men with tears, they were there to celebrate the life of a man who had done so much for others. While they paid their respects, Julie cried as she thought about no longer being able to see him sitting on the porch singing hymns or giving her a big bear hug when she visited. But then her Grampa came to mind and she knew that he and Granddaddy were keeping each other company and watching over her until she could see them again.