Vincent didn’t want to say goodbye to his grandfather, and he didn’t have to.
Vincent walked quietly into the room where his grandfather lay. Sliding a chair near the bed, he reached to take the gnarled, outstretched hand. “Gramps . . .” he said softly, then hesitated, not knowing what to say next.
Grandpa turned his head toward Vincent. “Hi, Fella.” Grandpa’s familiar smile accompanied his greeting, though his voice was weak. “I wanted to talk to you . . .”
. . . one last time. Vincent added the words in his mind though he didn’t say them aloud. A huge lump seemed to catch in his throat as he looked down at the fragile form in the bed. Grandpa looked so terribly thin now. He must have lost quite a bit of weight even since the last time Vincent had been there.
A wave of memories flooded over him . . . sitting by the campfire listening to Grandpa telling stories of his childhood; hiking through the wet grass to the lake for an early morning fishing trip; Grandpa’s face when he told Vincent he had been healed of cancer when the doctor said he couldn’t live more than a few months; listening to Grandpa as he gave his testimony in church . . .
Grandpa just couldn’t die. The good times they had shared couldn’t be over. Abruptly, Vincent turned his face away and looked fixedly out the window, trying to hold back the tears that were coming into his eyes.
The old man lying on the bed seemed to sense the turmoil that was going on in Vincent’s mind. “Vincent,” his gentle voice broke into the boy’s thoughts. “We’re not going to say goodbye. This isn’t the end.”
Vincent looked again at his grandfather, a question in his eyes. Didn’t Grandpa know he was dying? Hadn’t anyone told him yet?
“Remember the adventure story we read together a few months ago, Vincent?” was the surprising question Grandpa asked next. “You could hardly wait to find out what would happen in the next chapter.”
Vincent looked even more puzzled. Was Grandpa’s mind wandering? But he listened as the old man went on.
“God has written many chapters in my life during the eighty-three years I’ve been around. But the last chapter isn’t written yet!” A reminiscent note crept into his voice. “There was a chapter on mercy—God saved me! A chapter on guidance—God directed me to move our family clear across the country to Oregon so we could worship with a people that taught the whole Word of God. He has protected me, been my comfort . . . I remember how His arms were around us when we lost your Uncle David in the war.
“These last few weeks I think He has helped me work out a chapter on courage. But there is still a chapter left, Vincent. Jesus told His disciples, ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ Before long, I’m going to see that place! I believe the most exciting chapter of all is about to be written.”
Suddenly the whole thing started to make sense in Vincent’s mind. The struggle that had been going on inside him for the past two weeks—ever since he had finally realized that Grandpa was not going to get better—began to resolve. God hadn’t forsaken them. He had heard all the prayers Vincent had prayed for Grandpa. And His plan really was being worked out.
“God has met all of my needs through these years since I turned my life over to Him. And now—eternal life, Vincent! That’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m going to be in Heaven soon, and I’ll wait for you there.”
Vincent squeezed the hand he still held tightly. “Okay, Grandpa,” he said softly. “We won’t say goodbye then, just . . . see you later.”