The best birthday present I ever got
October of 2009 was tough for me. Two days before my birthday I got a call saying that my grandpa had a stroke. The next day a good friend of mine’s dad who was a police officer died from a gunshot wound that he suffered while in a foot chase. This post was written on that Thursday (October 15). It was a very tough post to write, and I never did finish it because I started crying while writing it, but it’s one of my favorite posts I’ve ever written on here.
i turned 23 on tuesday. i didn’t really publicize my birthday at all. i took it off of facebook and any other type of thing that would say, “hey, today is jonathan’s birthday!” i didn’t even tell the people i work with that it was my birthday. i’m actually having a birthday party on saturday that i didn’t tell anyone that it was a birthday party.
i really didn’t want it to be a big deal.
normally birthdays aren’t that good for me. when i turned 16, i invited a bunch of people to my house to hang out and have a little birthday party. two people showed up. when i turned 18, i was working at the ymca as an after school counselor and was showing the kids something and ended up severely spraining my ankle. last year when i turned 22 me and the ex had the fight that made me finally start to realize that things weren’t going to work out at all.
needless to say, birthdays aren’t very good to me so that’s one reason i don’t like to make a big deal about them.
on tuesday morning, i got a call from my mom saying that my grandpa had gotten worse and that she was rushing out to the hospital. i had planned on leaving work an hour or so early that day to head down there and see him anyways but this made me want to head out right then.
after getting some people to cover the work that i had to do that day, i was able to leave around 12:30 to head down to winston. for the first hour or so i’m driving and assuming the worst. nobody had really told me anything that was going on. all i’d been told was that things had gotten worse.
so here i am, on my birthday, with an hour left to go before i could get to the hospital fighting back tears and not knowing what to think.
then i finally got in touch with my brother. he started telling me how it wasn’t as bad as we thought and that people had overreacted. i talked to him for about 15 minutes and after that conversation felt a lot better.
i finally get to the hospital and saw my mom, my brother, and my uncle as i pulled in. i walked with mom and jordie through the hospital back to one of the family waiting rooms. mom told me a lot of the same stuff that my brother had. she told me that my grandpa couldn’t really talk that day and that he would look like he was sleeping because the swelling wouldn’t let him open his eyes. when i got there it was one of the quiet times where we couldn’t see him so i sat in the room with our family and talked to them and everything.
then they came back and said we could see him, but that he really didn’t need to be stimulated that much and that he needed his rest. i walked back to his room with my sister and stood outside his door looking at him for a second. i almost broke down standing there but i didn’t. i held it back.
then i walked in his room. it was me, my grandpa, and god. i told him hey and told him who i was. he didn’t say anything. he didn’t even move. but his breathing changed. as weird as it was, i could tell he was glad i was there. i’d never experienced that before, and it something i can’t really describe unless you’ve been in the situation.
i was shaking and fighting back tears big time. i told him that i didn’t want to stay too long because i know he needs his rest, but that i wanted to tell him i loved him and i wanted to pray for him. so i put my hand on his arm and started praying.
god, it’s your servant laying here. selfishly, i want him to get up and do cartwheels out of here tomorrow. but that’s me. more than that, i want what you want. i know that everything comes from you and that everything you do is good. peepaw’s lived his life doing your work so i ask that whatever it is you want, that you do it. i thank you because i know you hear us. we love you, and that’s something that he would say right now, we love you, and you’re awesome.
that was my prayer. it was simple and from the heart and i meant every word of it. after i said the cartwheels line, my grandpa’s breathing changed again. it felt like he was laughing or smiling a little bit when i said that. then as i went on there were a few times when it felt like he’d let out his typical pentecostal preacher, “yes lord” during my prayer. as much as i wanted to cry, i couldn’t help but smile at that.
even after having a massive stroke, while laying in a hospital bed, my grandpa is still trusting in god and praying to him and believing in him. i could write an entire entry on that, but that wasn’t really the point of this post.
after i went back to the family waiting room, my mom went back to tell him bye before we went home. mom went straight home and i went to see the friend who’s dad had passed away before going home. when i got home, we all went out to eat together for my birthday.
it was about 7:30 when we got to the restaurant. six hours earlier was when i was driving down the highway scared to death and almost breaking down crying.
but there, at the table inside of mi pueblo in king, north carolina, i got one of the best birthday presents i’ve ever gotten in my entire life.
we were talking about my grandpa and how he was doing and everything. i had just got finished telling my parents and brother about peepaw’s reaction when i was in there and praying for him and everything. after i finished mom told us how when she went back to tell him bye he grabbed her hand and while he couldn’t talk or move much, he was very much there and very much listening to her. then she told him that she had to leave and head back to king so that they could take me out to eat for my birthday.
laying there on a hospital bed, unable to talk for most of the day, my grandpa said to my mom, “tell jonathan happy birthday for me.”
that was all i needed to hear. i could get nothing else for my birthday and be perfectly happy. my grandpa told me happy birthday. i don’t need anything else.
there was more to this story that i was going to say but honestly it’s kind of hard to see the screen right now so i’m going to leave it at this:
my grandpa is freaking awesome.
say your prayers and take your vitamins.
have a nice day.