I never had the chance of knowing my Northern Irish grandfather. He died suddenly from a heart attack at age 74 when I was just 2. At the time, my parents were considering a trip to visit he and Granny which never happened.
Granny once told me Grandpa had passed away 2 weeks after their 50th wedding anniversary – she went onto outlive him by 19 years. But I’d never heard about his last conversation, nor thought much about it. That is, until this weekend, when Auntie P, who’d become good friends with Granny shared this story with me.
Grandpa, originally from Scotland by way of the Republic of Ireland, was co-owner of a modest hardware store in Rathfriland. He’d been a hard worker and had done his best to build up the business, eventually buying out his partner. He was also a staunch Methodist and regular church goer. According to Auntie P, one evening in late 1966, he admitted to Granny that he was having difficulty breathing and asked her to open the window. He then said “I think we should pray together. It’s been a long time since we prayed together. We’ve grown cold.” So for the first time in a while, they prayed. During that session, he prayed for the whole family including for my mother and us in Nigeria.
A few hours later, Granny discovered that he’d passed away in his sleep.
Auntie P repeated this story to me several times and was eager to convey to me that one of Grandpa’s final acts was to pray for his family. She feels this is significant and that God has answered that prayer by drawing some of us to himself. I don’t believe this is the end of that story. My prayer is that he will call many more of us to love, live with, and enjoy him too.