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  • There are words that we give much power. Love. Hate. Forgive. And Forget. But there are also words that for some reason or another jump out at us and remain with us forever. They haunt us, strengthen us, support us, and even give us pause in this hectic world.
    This is the first in a series of words that touched and forever altered my life and maybe it will remind you of some words in your own.

    He was a tall man and strong. With a booming laugh and a true hitchhiker's thumb. I only knew him with a cane and an arm that curved gently in towards his stomach and could not stretch out the fingers without help. Farm boy, soldier, husband, hero, carpenter, father, and craftsman. To me, he was Grandpa.

    In the last months of his life, this giant of a man was laid low in a hospital bed for a common ailement that would take the his spark of life that still burned so bright even after his stroke and heart attack. I was 10 going on 11. And I understood. And I truly did not.

    I would draw him pictures on his dry erase board in his room. And pick out his meals for the week on the sheet of paper. Grape juice instead of orange. Always choose the jello. But what truly sticks out for me is what I would say to him every day before I left. I would go over to the right side of his bed and reach across the railing to kiss his cheek. And I would say, "I'll see you soon, Okay?" The pitch of my voice would rise and become almost shrill as it emphasized the word "Okay" as if it was the seal of an unspoken promise that he wouldn't leave me.

    The last day of his life I was left alone with him while my family took a break in the waiting room. I was watching Little House on the Prairie. His consciousness ebbed and flowed. He woke up and started murmuring pointing to the end of the bed. I was so startled because I had no idea what he wanted. I couldn't help him. So I rushed down the hallway to my grandmother who was able to decipher that he wanted his toes covered up more. But it shook me that I was unable to understand him, unable to help him. So shook up that I didn't say, "I'll see you soon, Okay?" when I left.

    He passed away the next morning around 7:10am. I never made our unspoken promise. He was able to finally let go, released from his pain. I felt him leave, awoken from a deep sleep at that exact time even as a child.

    I think he wanted to let me know that he'll see me soon.
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