Ashley was almost ready to leave town. Only one more thing to do, the hardest thing to do, and she’d be free to go. She wanted to, no she needed to say goodbye to her grandfather.
She loved her grandfather. And he loved her, or rather, he used to. But age had robbed him of his memories and, although he recognized her as someone who came to visit, he rarely know her as his granddaughter anymore. They usually spent their time on imaginary trips as his mind took him back to the time of his farming and fishing days.
Ashley got in her car and drove towards the VA nursing home where he lived. She missed the talks they used to have as she grew up and wondered how his mind would be when she go there today. Would he be able to understand that she wouldn’t be visiting him as often anymore? Would he know who she was?
He looked up as she walked into his room.
“How are you today? she asked.
“Fine, thank you. How are you… Ashley, right? You’ve been here before,” he said in his thick southern accent.
“Yes, I’m Ashley. I’m your granddaughter.”
“You are? I don’t remember having a granddaughter.”
She sighed. It was not going to be one of his better days. She spent the rest of the visit answering his questions, the same questions, fifty times or more.
When it was about time to go, she told him, “I won’t be able to come visit you as often anymore. I’m moving away. But I’ll come back whenever I can.”
“You’re moving away?”
“Yes. And I wanted to let you know so you’ll understand when I don’t come visit you for awhile.”
“I like your visits. You’re a nice lady.”
“Granddaddy, try to understand. I love you.”
“I’m your Granddaddy?”
She tried not to show her disappointment. She had hoped to be able to reach him for just a moment so she could say a proper goodbye. It was evident that wasn’t gong to happen. As she turned to go, there was an announcement over the PA system about a small service that was being set up in the common area for the residents. She looked down the hallway and saw a man and a woman setting up a guitar and a karaoke machine. Her grandfather had always love singing.
“Hey, Granddaddy, would you like to go sing a few songs?” she called back into his room.
“Why not? Singing is OK.” He smiled at her.
She pushed his wheelchair down the hall and joined the gathering residents.
Then the music started. From the first chord of “How Great Thou Art” Ashley’s grandfather began singing like he was back in his old Alabama church – loud and off key. Ashley joined in on the songs she knew. When they sang “Old Time Religion” they looked at each other, connecting in way they hadn’t experienced in a long time, and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.
It seemed like too soon the service was over. As she pushed her grandfather back to his room, she thanked God for giving her grandfather back to her for those few moments. Maybe she didn’t know why God allowed her grandfather to have Alzheimer’s disease, but she did know one thing. God was more powerful than the disease. And she was grateful for the loving way He used a song to bring her and her grandfather together for a proper goodbye.