Whenever I left Grandpa's house the routine was always the same:
I would give him a hug and tell him, "I love you Grandpa."
He would hug me back and say, "I love you too kid. What would I ever do without you?"
And then I would tell him he would never have to find out.
He would stand at the door, I would honk as I backed out of the driveway and he would flash his porch light on and off.
* * *
A few days before Grandpa died we had a conversation that was similar to that of the one we had whenever I left his house.
He had been in a care center for about two months and wasn't always very lucid. This was our conversation (maybe not word for word):
G: "Noelle, I think I'm ready to leave this school." (He always called the care center a school.)
N: "Where do you want to go Grandpa?"
G: "Back to Fountain Green. I'm ready to go home." (Towards the end I learned that going to Fountain Green actually meant that he was ready to die.)
G: "Noelle, I've given this a lot of thought. I want to go now. I even told Heavenly Father that I was ready to go back to Fountain Green. What do you think of that?"
N: "Grandpa, if you're ready to leave I think that's okay. I will miss you terribly, but I know it's time."
And then he asked what I thought everyone else would say about his going. He wanted to know about his neighbors, and his bishop, and my aunt, and even his mechanic. "Do you think the mechanic will be okay if I go back to Fountain Green?"
I reassured him that everyone would be okay. And until this point in our conversation I was handling things pretty well. But then he got me...right in the heart.
G: "Noelle, I just have one more question. What will I ever do without you? What if I need you and can't find you? I won't be able to call you!"
My response was simply, "Grandpa, I don't think you will need me. But if you do, I'm sure you'll figure out a way to contact me."
Two days later Grandpa told me he was tired and asked if he could go to sleep. I said yes, he closed his eyes, slipped into a coma, and then died two days after that.
I've always hoped that heaven for him is just like Fountain Green.