May 27, 2013

Robert Alton Gililland, Sr. Love, Love and Love.

Those beautiful poetic words that my Grandfather would speak, his beautiful thoughts, his gratefulness, his love are no longer in living and breathing form, but in their place stand memories; memories that do not do my Gran's presence justice, however, they simply must do.

My Gran passed on at 12:45am on Tuesday, May 21st. Our last memory of him communicating to us would be Sunday morning when my sister, Becky and I had gone over to see him. My sister and her family had arrived in Abilene at about 4am that Sunday. We headed over at around 8:30am to check on him. He was SO glad to see her, and was so glad that they had made it in safely. Becky and I each took one of his hands and he would kiss our hands repeatedly and then ask Becky questions about her and her family.

We left briefly to go home and gather our families and then we headed back to have worship with Gran at about 1pm. He wasn't interacting much, but his breathing still seemed normal at that time. My cousin's family, aunt and uncle, my family and Becky's family stood and sat around my Grandfather's bed and worshiped with him. Several of the great-grandchildren stood by his bedside reading scriptures they chose, speaking loudly so he could hear. We sang his favorite song twice, "How Great Thou Art." It was just this last Christmas when our large family group was together that my grandfather requested that we all sing this song. This Sunday during the song he lifted his arms and moved them as though he was directing us. Then came time to take communion and I asked him if he would like to take the bread and he nodded, I put a piece of cracker in his mouth and he chewed it up. Then I asked him if he wanted the grape juice and he nodded so I put a straw into the grape juice for him to drink, it took him about 5 tries but he was able to get a good sip. Shortly after that we gathered around his bed and laid our hands on him and prayed over him. When we left late that afternoon he was sleeping and we assumed that when we came back in the morning he would be ready for conversation again.

I got an anxious feeling Monday morning when I woke up. I headed right over there and he was unresponsive (or sleeping) as the late afternoon before, but he hadn't been dosed any pain medication in over 12 hours. His breathing was more labored. My sister, aunt, uncle and I got busy texting and calling family to let them know what was happening. His Hospice aide was there when I arrived and she had given Gran a good bath. She told us to be sure to dose Gran his pain meds on a regular basis as he would not be able to tell us he was in pain. I knew when I saw Gran that morning that I wouldn't leave his side again. We all just camped out there with him holding his hands, kissing his hands, singing, playing his hymn cd's. My brother Rob caught a flight out of Phoenix and made it in at about 11pm. My sister, Tiffany, hopped in her car to make the 12 hour drive.

All that were there took turns sitting by his side and holding his hand. We would wet his lips and mouth with the mouth sponges that Hospice brought. We kept his hair combed and looking his dapper self. My brother, Rob, made it in to see my Grandfather. My husband, Rob, had picked him up at the airport. Before hubby Rob went on back home my cousin's David and Michael and my siblings, Rob, Becky and I gathered around his bed and prayed over my Gran again. Within about a half an hour of that prayer my Gran's breathing was beginning to slow down and before we knew it there were no more breaths. My cousins went to the other side of the house to get their mom and dad who had retired a couple of hours before to get some rest before my uncle's 7am dialysis appointment. Phil and Sue said their goodbyes and my Gran went on to Glory.

It was quite surreal.

The man who to all of us was larger than life, he really was our true north on earth, our earthly guiding presence was gone. He shone Jesus so bright in his life, it will be difficult to go on without him here with us. The grand patriarch has met up with our grand matriarch in heaven.

My Gran was a wonderful example of love to us. He loved fully. In my cousin, David's words at the memorial service, my Gran's love was "Fun, Pure and Holy."

I am remembering the mornings I would go over and give him his morning medicine and I would have his pills in my hand and he would take my hand and hold it. He would tell me that my hands were beautiful, soft and gentle, and how much he loved my hands that helped him. The last two months were a sacred gift to me. I think I saw my Gran every day but one in the last two months of his life. Most days I saw him more than once. I knew that his time was coming to an end, but had hoped selfishly that I had lots more mornings of his smile as I walked in the door. I wish I would have taken a picture of that first morning smile. Although selflessly I am so glad that He saw Jesus face to face, he is in no more pain, and is with my Nana again. He sought the Lord every day on this earth, now there is no more seeking, his journey is complete.

Thanks be to God.