His Last Mile

It was a day that began like all of the others, for my Grandpa. I imagine he turned back the covers, and slowly put his feet to the floor. Without thinking, he put one step in front of the other…. down the short hall to the kitchen. He may have checked on a load of laundry he accidentally left in the dryer. Grandma would never go for that! He had better turn it back on to fluff the clothes again.

Taking a few more steps, he is in the kitchen where so many memories come to mind. He can almost hear the laughter of the grandkids at Christmas as they run through, on their way out the door for some football in the snow. He smiles as he looks at the table and remembers it set for the perfect breakfast.

For some reason, everything seems nostalgic today. Then he looks at the clock and realizes, he had better hurry and get ready. He wants to pick Grandma up at the nursing home a few minutes early today.

You see, today is a bit special because he has been asked to speak at church. He makes sure his notes are in his Bible. A few minutes later, he is out the door, and starting the van. He stops by his favorite donut shop, and says hi to everyone there, and as he leaves, says a prayer under his breath for the man sitting alone at the counter, and for the weary cashier who is learning to be a single mom.

He arrives to pick up my Grandma and she gives him a kiss on the cheek while patting his other cheek and somehow today….it reminds him of the first time she kissed him. She asked him to check the back of her hair, and he fumbles around with the pins and the flower, and puts everything in its place. There, pretty as a picture!

He places his weary hands on the wheelchair, and with one foot in front of the other…he pushes his wife of almost 60 years down the long hall. He says Good Morning to a few people…asks them how they are doing. He smiles at the nurse behind the desk and says “I am going to take Betty out for lunch today, so we’ll be back later this afternoon.” With a quick wave, he rolls my Grandma out the door and onto the waiting lift to put her in the van.

On the way to church, they talk a little bit, but he is already thinking about how he is going to say some of the things that God has put on his heart to talk about. Just a simple life testimony, which is what he has decided to do. But, he wants to make it count. It has to touch someone…that is his prayer.

They turn in to the parking lot, he shuts off the engine and gets Grandma, and begins his walk up the ramp….one foot in front of the other, he prays as he walks…wondering who will be there today that needs to hear his testimony?

The door opens, and his friend of many years is there to welcome them in. He finds his way to their seat, gets settled in and then takes a seat, just to rest and think for a few minutes before church starts. He looks around and his mind wanders. He can recall like it was yesterday…laying the carpet in this beloved church. His eyes look up and he wishes he could maybe pull his banjo out today. So many good time were had, playing his banjo with the worship band.

The church starts to fill up, the service begins. He is soon lost in the words to one of his favorite songs. Today is a good day. He can feel it from somewhere deep inside. After a few more songs, it’s time for him to speak. The Pastor calls his name.

He takes a deep breath, grabs his notes and puts one foot in front of the other…and makes his way to the front. As he rests his hands on the pulpit, it’s like he felt God’s hands resting on his shoulders. He begins to speak, and Oh, does he speak. Gentle, with love, with humor, he tells his story.

About half way through, the Hands he felt on his shoulders, now are taking his own hands, and are leading him one foot in front of the other….. to a place that he has dreamed of for so long. Wasn’t he just singing “Oh, I Want To See Him?”

He wishes he could tell his family and friends goodbye, but then he smiles and remembers…his notes. They will tell everyone goodbye….they will finish his story.

And so….he takes the Hand of His Maker, and puts one foot in front of the other…..he is home.

A week or so later, his pastor read the rest of Grandpas notes at his homecoming service. It was one of my most cherished times in God’s presence. One of my Grandpa’s favorite songs was The Last Mile, and I have often thought of his last mile…and decided to share how I imagine his day went. It makes me realize that every day, every decision, every word, and every step we take should be for the good of others.

We often let the cares, stresses or even busyness of life take over, and we forget just why we are here. It may be to fluff some clothes in a dryer, it may be cooking dinner, it may be saying hello to the clerk at the dry cleaners, it may be punching a clock, it may be dispensing medicine, it may be sending the kids off to school in time.

When your feet hit the floor tomorrow, and you put one foot in front of the other, and are off to your busy day…may you touch the lives of all those whose paths you cross.

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One thought on “His Last Mile

  • May 22, 2016 at 12:22 am
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    So honored to know both your Grandpa & Grandma. They were such soldiers of the cross, loving each other, loving their God & letting him love others thru them. We need more Wayne & Betty Gastineaus in our world today. Somehow they would have a practical answer how to be all God wants us to be & make it look so simple!

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