One very special moment of our vacation I will always hold in my heart was being able to see my Grandpa, my dad’s dad and the last remaining grandparent in my family. This was particularly special for me as I was able to introduce him to Z and Robi.
While he lay there, we all talked and chatted; Robi was very entertaining and Grandpa instantly fell in love with him. I was sad to see him so sick, but happy that I could see him while were in there and that I could introduce him to my family.
Robi was getting restless. Z and I had taken turns following him around the unit Grandpa was in while trying to keep him from bursting in on some unsuspecting patient. For the umpteenth time Z brought Robi back into the room, trying to keep him from destroying whatever lay in his path, and we decided it might be best to wait in the car while mom and dad finished visiting.
I told Grandpa that we needed to leave with Robi and he understood. I went to his side to give him a goodbye hug and kiss and he grabbed my hand in his powerful grip. Grandpa may have been thin – he was always thin – but little did people know that his was not skin and bones – he was muscle and bones. He packed more punch than anyone would ever realize. In his 80’s he still had a barrel of a chest and a grip that could that could send a young man to his knees.
He lay there holding my hand, looked me in the eye and began saying a blessing over me. It was the most powerful and emotional moment – almost like something out of the Bible. And all I could think of was how grateful I was that to have this special moment with him. It touched me so deeply because Grandpa was never overt about his faith. He had a strong faith in God, but was very private about it. I had never before heard him say the things that he said to me, and it gave me a momentary glimpse of some deeper things in his heart. I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live.
With tears in both of our eyes we hugged and said goodbye; and somehow I think he sensed this may be the last time we’d see each other here on earth.
Before we left we managed to get a picture of 4 generations.
We arrived back in Zagreb and a week later I got a call from my parents that Grandpa had gone to be with Jesus.
I knew it would happen, I just didn’t think it would be so soon. And suddenly the fact that I had been able to introduce him to Z and Robi, his blessing, the picture – it all meant so much more to me. How close I could have come to missing that final goodbye. Had our trip been one or two weeks later he would have gone before we arrived. But God always does all things perfectly!
When my father learned that I would be writing a special tribute to my Grandpa, he sent me the eulogy he read at the funeral. I’d like to share it with you.
There were some things about his life that I knew: he was in the Navy, served during WW2, and that he was a hard worker – but some of the information was new to me. It brought tears to my eyes and made me all the more proud to be apart of the Hackett family. I hope you take a moment to read the entire tribute to a great man I call Grandpa.
|Source: USMC Archives|