My grandpa died last week.
I was debating whether or not to tell you, dear readers, but I had a pretty amazing faith-building experience and I just can't keep it to myself. I never intended to share religious/ faith-related stuff here, mostly because I guess I don't really feel qualified at this point in my journey, but I just can't keep this one to myself.
My grandpa Fred was 92 years old and he lived a long, happy life. He was a wonderful man. He was one of the holiest people I've ever known. I've learned a tremendous amount from him and yet I wish I could have learned more. One thing he always tried to instill in me and my family was generosity. He always encouraged us to give with a happy heart. He was incredibly giving.
That's us at my grandparents' cabana in Long Island, NY circa 1985. My grandpa is on the right and me with my sister and brother and two of our cousins. Can you guess which one is me?
He also loved talking, thinking and reading about heaven. Even decades ago when he was perfectly healthy. There was not a doubt in his mind about what was waiting for him when the Lord called him home and especially now, there's not a doubt in my mind about where he is now. He was ready, excited to go.
When I was a kid, I saw my grandparents every few months. Every time we had to say goodbye, my grandpa would slip my siblings and I each a $5 bill. It was kind of funny that he was secretive about it because we all knew he was going to do it. I guess he knew my mom would try to tell him he didn't need to do it etc... When I was young $5 seemed like a fortune to me. Looking back I think he did that to encourage us to be generous. As a child, you don't always realize or remember when someone gives money to others, but it definitely makes an impression when someone gives money to you.
I was really blessed to be able to see my grandfather in the hospital before he died, but it's hard to say whether he knew I was there. He knew a ton of people and our family is pretty large, so there were 3 wakes over two days in order to accommodate everyone. The funeral and burial were on Friday followed by a meal at a nice Italian restaurant. He would have loved that part.
At some point during all of this (I think it was during the funeral, but those days are kind of blurred together in my mind) I prayed something to the effect of, "if it's really all there (heaven) like you always talked about, could you give me a little sign?"
My husband and I had to leave the luncheon a little early in order to pick up our girls whom we left with my husband's family in PA. As we were walking away from the restaurant I noticed something flapping on the ground out of the corner of my eye. I couldn't believe what I saw when I looked down.
It was a five dollar bill.
I can't tell you the assurance I felt when I picked it up. That little five dollar bill told me so much. Yes, it's really all here. Yes, your prayers are heard. Yes, you are cared for from above. Yes, there is a plan. Be hopeful. Be generous. Be happy.
I know plenty of people will think, so what? It's just money on the ground. Happens all the time. But for me it was just too much of a coincidence to simply be a happy accident. I haven't found a five dollar bill (or any other bill) on the ground since I was a kid. It wasn't a ten or a one dollar bill, it was a five. Because that is the amount that is significant to me. If it had happened a week earlier or several days later (or even an hour later) it wouldn't have had the same significance. It happened the moment I stepped away from the last of the funeral proceedings. It happened when I said goodbye.
I know with every fiber of my being that it was an answer to my prayer. The reassurance that I needed to continue living with the faith that we are in God's loving hands.
I love you, Grandpa.
3 hours ago