My Granddaddy Bill died on February 5, 2012. He wasn’t the grandparent that I was the closest to, but we definitely had a solid connection. Even before my son William was born and named after him. As a child, I used to visit his house in Rock Hill, South Carolina on weekends. He would take me to play Putt-Putt and then we would have lunch at Taco Bell. To this day, I still order a Meximelt and regular nachos when I eat there.
Three weeks before his death, Granddaddy fell at his home and was admitted to the hospital. After a brief stay, he was transferred to a rehab facility. During this time, I began to notice what seemed to be odd coincidences between Granddaddy and William. Now, keep in mind that William is only 2 and had only visited Granddaddy a handful of times prior to his death. So when I began noticing the similarities, I at first brushed them off as mere coincidences. But the more similarities I began to notice, the more curious I became about them.
Not long before his death, Granddaddy, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, began locking himself in rooms in his home, unable to get out without assistance. While Granddaddy was in the rehab center, William began a fascination with locking doors in our house, laughing at us when we couldn’t get into a room. We would have to get the little key doohickey to unlock doors when William would lock himself in. And this began to happen very frequently. I told my mom about William’s newest quirky obsession, and she responded by telling me about Granddaddy locking himself in rooms at his home, something I had not previously known.
Also while in the rehab facility, Granddaddy began refusing to use the restroom. One night at our house during this time, I brought out a new Cars potty that I had recently purchased for William to begin introducing him to the concept of potty training. For a completely unknown reason, William freaked out. I’m talking the worst tantrum I have ever seen a toddler throw, and I have seen quite a few after raising Zachary through his toddler years. William was screaming and actually began taking the potty apart, piece by piece. It got so bad that I simply had to back off and let William work through his frustration alone, as hard as that was for me as a mama. I remember thinking, “Now THAT was a serious meltdown. What in the world could have sparked such a tantrum? Over a potty??” When my mom and I discussed the meltdown not long afterward, she reminded me of Granddaddy’s refusal to use the bathroom. Another coincidence? Hmmm….
In his younger days, Granddaddy loved to fly airplanes. He taught pilots to fly airplanes during WWII after enlisting in the Army Air Corp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He also owned his own small airplane that he used to fly out of the Rock Hill airport. I remember flying with him one time as a child and him letting me “take over” the plane. I feel pretty confident that I didn’t actually “take over” the plane, but he let me think that I did, and that was very exciting.
William has been obsessed with airplanes since he could see them in the sky. Every time – and I mean every time – he sees or hears one, he announces, “Airplane!” and makes everyone look for it in the sky. Around the time of Granddaddy’s death, we went to dinner with my mom at a local restaurant and there was a balloon artist there who made William a helicopter balloon. William flew the helicopter around the restaurant during dinner, much to the dismay of some of the other patrons. As we were driving home that night, William asked a question that he had never asked me before. He asked, “Mama, what are you doing?” to which I replied, “I’m driving, what are you doing?” William asked, “Do you want to fly?” That was a “lightbulb moment,” when I really began to think that Granddaddy had invaded my child’s body somehow and overtaken him. I said, “Do you want to fly, William?” And he answered with an emphatic, “YES!” I called my mom to tell her of yet another similarity, which were starting to become ridiculously common, to the point where I thought my mom might be thinking that I was making all of it up. But, I called her anyway and put her on speakerphone so that William could talk to her. William asked my mom if she wanted to fly, and she asked where they were going. My mom, who my children call “Mimi,” responded, “Yes. Where are we going? To the beach?” to which William replied, “Yes!” Granddaddy loved the beach and used to fly my mom and his other two children to the beach in his airplane on vacation.
Following Granddaddy’s funeral, I picked up William and took him to Granddaddy’s house to visit with family. He seemed very comfortable there despite not having been there often. He explored the house with his cousins and even played hide and seek in the attic. The following day after things quieted down, I took William back to the house to visit with his Mimi and Granddaddy Bill’s wife, Betty. After eating lunch, William insisted on taking me to the bedroom where Granddaddy had spent his final days. William had never seen Granddaddy in that room. While in the room, William took on a very playful persona, giggling and hiding from me. The sun was shining through a window, the same window that Granddaddy was peering through the day he died. The sun had made a sunny patch on the carpet, and William proceeded to lay down in the sunny patch. He literally wallowed in it. I watched him curiously and asked, “What are you doing, laying in the sunshine?” to which he replied, “Yeeeeesssss.” I couldn’t help in that moment but to feel that Granddaddy had come home through William, somehow, perhaps to comfort us as we grieved his loss, and as his way of telling us, “Hey, I’m ok! I’m whole again, and it’s more than wonderful!”
There are other coincidences that I could mention, but I think you get the picture. Is it possible that Granddaddy has spoken to us through my precious William? After witnessing these events, I believe that not only is it possible, but that it happened. And for that, I am so grateful. God is good!