i’m a tar heel born and a tar heel bred

one of my favorite dynamics of the relationship i have with my grandpa is our sports rivalries. he’s a virginia fan. i’m a carolina fan. he’s a gardner-webb alum. i’m a liberty alum. both teams that we’re fans of play each other in every sport. it gives us a chance to always rub it in with each other after a game.

luckily for me, my team is normally the better team so my team wins more often. i always called him after a win knowing exactly what the conversation would be:

me: hey peepaw. what happened to virginia last night?
peepaw: oh, well, you know, the bible says to prefer your brother so that’s what they were doing. they were just preferring their brother.
me: well they’ve been preferring their brother quite a bit lately.
peepaw: they’re just doing what the bible says to do.

i’ve had that conversation with him so many times that i can’t even count. when he had his stroke in october, i was scared that i’d never get to have that conversation with him ever again. he had surgery and the doctors said there was a good chance he wouldn’t recover. they said that he’d be paralyzed on one side for the rest of his life. they said that his memory may be messed up permanently.

they said a lot of things that really scared me.

when liberty played gardner-webb in football back in november, i made sure to tell my mom to pass along to peepaw that liberty won. i knew that he wasn’t awake, but i knew that he could still hear her.

before christmas there was progress. my mom wrote an e-mail to me, my brother, and my sister telling us how she had went to see him with my grandma and saw him respond in a way she’d never seen before. she told us that the doctor said “to keep the faith that he has seen people in peepaw’s condition recover before, not very often, but he has seen it happen.”

after that she told a story that almost made me cry sitting at a restaurant with friends when i read it, and made me fight back tears just now. she said:

after we got every thing done, meemaw read the bible to him and prayed with him.  he opened his eyes after she finished praying.  meemaw starts talking to him after he opened his eyes.  she told him how much she loved him and i actually saw him smile at her.  he really did smile and was looking at her eyes.  i couldn’t believe it, but it is true. 

over the next couple of weeks, my mom told me how she would go to see him and read the bible to him. she said that when she was doing this, she could see him moving his lips along with what she read.

he was quoting it while she was reading it.

on christmas eve, when my grandma was doing her devotions like she does every year, she focused on hope. she said that we couldn’t lose hope that god was going to heal him.

over the past month, i’ve talked to my mom and always asked her how my grandpa was doing. she’d tell me about how he was awake and alert at times. she’d tell me about how he would hold her hand while she was there. she’d tell me about the time that he told her he wanted brut, and if you knew my grandpa, you’d know how extremely funny that was. she even told me about how he said he didn’t like obama.

she told me about all of the progress that he was making that i was scared he never would.

a week ago, my sister changed her facebook status to one of the best things i’ve ever read. it’s something that is so basic and so simple that i often overlook it. she said “remember that healing may take longer than a miracle, but without god, neither would happen. have faith, hope, and believe.” it was a subtle reminder that these things don’t happen on my terms but rather when god wants them to.

on friday, i called my mom to tell her that our wrestling match on saturday was canceled so i wouldn’t have to go out in the snow. she was with my grandpa when i called her. i gave her an update on my search for a church to work in and asked her to tell him about it so that he would know. i knew that even in the condition he was in, he was still praying for me. that’s one thing i know i could count on. i also knew that he would want to know because i know how proud he is of me for doing what i’m doing.

on sunday, i called my mom to let her know i was alright despite the eight inches of snow. mom’s worry about that type of thing so i wanted to make sure she knew i was alright. we were about to get off of the phone when she remembered something that she hadn’t told me. on friday while she was with my grandpa, she could see on his face that something was bothering him. she asked him if it was his head, his arm, if he was thirsty, and all of these other things. then she asked him if it was his foot. he has a sore on his left foot that is getting better but would still be painful. the only thing is, his left side is supposed to be paralyzed.

he shook his head yes that his foot was hurting.

he felt something where he was supposed to be paralyzed.

when she told me this, i had no clue what to think. but then she went on. she told me how she saw him move his left leg and bend his knee a little, almost like he was riding a bike. she pulled one of the nurses in and asked her if she’d seen him do that and she hadn’t. she was completely surprised too.

he bent a leg that was supposed to be paralyzed.

on sunday night, the acc game of the week was carolina vs virginia. the first half was really competitive. virginia went into the half up five. in the second half, virginia jumped up to a big lead. i ended up turning the game off and watching something else. virginia won pretty big.

for the first time in a long time, i actually smiled that carolina lost. i knew i wouldn’t be getting a phone call, but i knew that when my grandpa found out, he’d be thinking about rubbing it in.

you see, healing does take longer than a miracle and we don’t like waiting on god. but one thing i’ve learned through this whole process is that healing is just a long series of miracles.

my grandpa wasn’t supposed to wake up after he had surgery. but he did.

my grandpa wasn’t supposed to remember things. but he remembers everything.

my grandpa wasn’t supposed to be able to move his left side. but my mom saw him do it.

every single one of those things is a miracle in their own right.

as thankful as i am about everything god’s done in the healing of my grandpa, i think the one thing i’m most thankful for is that god decided to prefer his brother and take on a human form and die so that miracles like this could happen.

the reason carolina lost to virginia is simply because they were trying to be more like jesus – they were trying to prefer their brother.

ok, maybe not, but that’s what i would’ve told my grandpa.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.

-jonathan

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