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Ollie’s Grandson

“You’ll be the first to know when your grandchild arrives,” my son told him. And even in death, he was.

My husband Ollie had retired from teaching and we were making plans to travel together to Florida. Then a devastating illness struck and Ollie was left weak and gaunt, hardly able to speak. Weeks passed and it became clear that Ollie was near death. We held tight to our faith.

One of us was always in Ollie’s hospital room—either me, or our grown children, Bruce and Karen. One day, in his faltering speech, Ollie told Bruce, “Go home. You should be with Gwen.”

Gwen was Bruce’s wife. They lived halfway across the country. Gwen was about to have a baby. We felt an extra sadness, knowing Ollie would never see his first grandchild.

“I don’t want to leave you, Dad;” Bruce said.

Ollie repeated, “You belong with Gwen.”

Reluctantly, Bruce left. “When the baby comes,” he assured Ollie, “you’ll be the first to know.”

A few days later, around 2 p.m., Ollie awoke from a nap. He turned and looked at me. I leaned close to hear his halting words. “The baby is coming now. It’s a boy,” he said. For an instant the old sparkle was in his eyes. Then he slipped back to sleep.

Not long after, Karen bounded into the room. “Bruce called,” she said, a smile lighting her face. “Gwen went into labor around two o’clock.”

That night, Ollie died in his sleep. A few hours later, his first grandchild was born. A healthy baby boy.

Ollie had been the first to know.

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