13 February 2012

Monday Memories: Grandpa Spence

Twenty years ago today, my maternal grandpa died. I was in the room with him, as was my oldest baby girl, just over a year old at the time.

Grandpa had several types of cancer ranging from skin cancer to pancreatic cancer to reproductive area cancer. By the time that he died at age 81, he was thoroughly consumed with it. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was the first time I'd seen anyone give up the ghost. I saw as my father-in-law was dying, but I was not with him at that very last moment as it occurred at the hospital. I would have been there except that he wanted the store open and, so, I was the one to open the store that morning. He died on my grandpa's seventy-seventh birthday.

Grandpa was in the hospital bed in his room at my grandparent's apartment. Hospice was there. One of my aunts was there, too. Grandpa had been moaning awful, scary moans in the days leading up to this. On this morning, he was gurgling. They were suctioning the fluid that was building up in his lungs. It was building faster than they could suction. He was drowning there in his bed right before my eyes.

My aunt left the room. I know it was very difficult for her to see her daddy in such an awful state of between here and THERE. Just after she left, I heard a sound like I've never heard before or since. It was a deep, soulful exhalation and he was gone.

Then, my baby girl, so young and innocent, still able to perceive beyond the veil that shields from our adult eyes those things meant only for the innocent, waved and said "Good-bye, Papa". She was smiling and looking up and, as my heart was breaking in two, it was filled with peace. I knew where he was headed as he was a Christian man but, through my baby girl, I had a visual confirmation. If something scary had come to collect him, she wouldn't have been smiling, but she was, so my heart did, too.

Tombstone Photo Credit: RenéeG. at FindaGrave.com. Thank you!


  1. This post brought tear to my eyes. I watched my grandfather die. At the time I was quiet upset that my mother did not stay in the room during his last moments. Now I realize she could not handle the emotional distress of her father passing away. I held my grandfathers left hand and my grandmother held his right hand. I kept whispering in his ear to go to Jesus. I hope that helped him in his last moments. I miss my Poppop.

    1. Thank you for letting me know of your experience, too, Tami. I am glad that you were able to be with your grandpa, too, but so sorry that you had to let him go. :( I am sure that you did help his journey with your love, words, and presence. PTL that we will see them again some day, in a place of no more tears and no more pain.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I hope that you have a great week.


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