I'm in Palm Harbor, Florida. I grew up here. This is the first time in 14 years I've done more than drive by my home town. My grandparents returned here a year ago, and I came over here for a visit because my (Pop) grandfather's health isn't so great. I'm processing an adolescence cut short from moving away from home and coming to grips with the beginning stages of grief for the man who plays a major role in my life.
After a laundry list of health challenges and falls, Pop is in a rehab facility for several types of physical therapy. Quite honestly, my family doesn't know what's going to happen. Knowing him, he could be around another 25 years, but I decided to come down anyway to avoid regrets.
Last night, before we left his rehab facility Pop asked if we could pray together as a family. We happily agreed.
My family took turns in prayer, but while we did I got down on my knees in front of Pop's wheel chair and put my head on his chest, just like I used to when I was a boy. We had an evening ritual. We'd play baseball. He'd pitch and I'd bat. I'd break a lot of stuff. He'd cheer. We'd wrestle. I'd win. Then we would settle down on the couch. Pop would stand me up in front of him and smile upon me. He'd call me, "Michael Joseph." That's not my legal name, but he didn't care. It had deep meaning for him, a destiny that he spoke over quite often. After a while I'd put my head on his chest as he read the paper. With the beat of his heart in one ear and CNN in the other, I'd drift to sleep nightly.
These past few health challenges have slowed Pop down quite a bit. His feet shuffle, his voice is soft, and he has trouble doing things he used to. However, when I heard his heart I was connected to him...the real him.
I'm not quite sure of what to make all of this. I'm walking and driving these streets that look so familiar, but I get turned around. The salty Florida air invigorates my lungs and I am breathing deeper than I can in Texas. I sit with my hero and talk, but then there are moments when I loose him...just for a second and then he's back.
I'm so grateful for those heart beats. I can hear them now.
God, I know you love Pop. I know you will be the God we know you are.