Grandpa Danced, and Grandma Smiled

It wasn’t easy for him.
He wasn’t planning on going.
He said he couldn’t bear the thought of being there without her.

I woke up the morning of my wedding, ready to begin the first day of my lifelong relationship with my soul mate.
My Grandpa woke up, and was faced with the unexpected and harsh reality of having to say goodbye to his.

Can you imagine? Spending 60 years of your life with someone. And then one morning…they’re gone? Having normal morning conversation one minute, and then saying your final “I love you” ?

My entire family was shocked to their core.

She was fine Friday.
She came to the rehearsal dinner.
Laughed. Hugged. Enjoyed the evening and basked in the celebration of her granddaughter and new grandson’s young love.

Saturday morning.
Those few short minutes we all keep replaying in our minds.
The painful memories and cluttered thoughts.
She was getting ready to go to the salon to get her hair fixed for the wedding.
Jay had to make the call.
Joseph had to drive the ambulance
Jenny had to hold her hand as she took her last breath.
Daddy had to say goodbye as they closed the ambulance doors, then be greeted by both his son’s arms as he arrived at the hospital… and hear that she didn’t make it.
Momma had to pray. She had to put her arms around Grandpa and pray for his precious heart.
Suzanne had to stand beside Jacob as Jay told him over the phone.
Jay had to tell Ray.

But Grandpa. Oh, Grandpa. Grandpa had to say goodbye to his soul mate.
Grandpa had to take his first step in 60 years….alone.

Grandpa had to say goodbye.

Grandpa had to feel half of his heart stop beating.

And then someone had to call me. Someone had to let me know, in the middle of wedding preparations with my bridesmaids….that my sweet precious Grandma had unexpectedly gone to see Jesus. Annalee held me. I collapsed into her arms. My knees were weak and my legs felt nonexistent. I never want to feel that pain again. We cried. And cried. And cried. My bridesmaids prayed and sat with me during the shock.

I was stuck in Pulaski.

Joseph had to drive and get me, and Ray met us at the hospital.
Jay and Jacob were waiting for me in the parking lot.
Ready to wrap their arms around me and be the strong, loving, dependable support system I’ve always known.
And they were.
They immediately embraced me. One brother on each side. All three clinging to each other. We held each other tight and sobbed over the grief of our Grandma’s death.

We walked in the hospital. Down the hall into Grandpa’s room. He was broken. We were all broken.

I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to make it down the aisle. I couldn’t imagine reading my vows to Ray and being sincere about this being the “happiest day of my life.” We didn’t know what to do. Our hearts cried out in desperation. Pleading for Our Father to draw near to our family. We couldn’t imagine facing the 300 smiling guests at our wedding – ready to celebrate our new life together. We couldn’t imagine smiling period.

But somehow it happened. Somehow, between the hours of 2 and 11pm…God gave us all the strength to get through the day. Not just to do it…but to do it with JOY. I can say with full sincerity that I have never been so happy in my entire life. Sure, the entire day wasn’t wonderful. That morning was hell. But from the hours of 2:30pm (when I first saw Ray), until 11 pm (when we said our goodbyes)…it was absolutely perfect. The whole day was not perfect. But the evening was. And that is only by the grace of God. The only way we could have made it through the day, was with the joy of knowing that we would see Grandma again. That she was dancing with Jesus. That she was made whole. That she would want us to continue with the ceremony. And that she would want us to be happy during it.

We didn’t think Grandpa was going to be able to make it to the wedding.
I wasn’t expecting to see him there. He said he couldn’t do it without her.

But he did.
He was grieving, he was in shock, he couldn’t bring himself to smile.

He was broken.

But he was there.

He looked numb during the ceremony, and stared off into space during family pictures. I don’t blame him one bit.

But he was there…

Then, one of my favorite moments in the whole day happened.

Grandpa asked me to dance.
Long before the dancing started.
he walked over
Slowly. Feeble. The weight of the world on his shoulders
and he said through tears
“I was wondering if it might be alright if I danced with you, honey”

So we danced.
Grandpa Danced.
And Grandma smiled.

She was there on our wedding day. As the sun came through the trees and the wind rustled the leaves… we could feel her. She was there. We knew she was celebrating with us. In her new, perfect, completely whole body.

And then, as Grandpa took my hand, and we started to dance, Grandma smiled sweetly and said “well.. I want you to look..”

Just like she always did. Every Christmas. Every birthday. Every new family announcement. “well..I want you to look..”

We still haven’t been able to process it all. Saturday was a whirlwind. A roller coaster of emotions for the entire family. Look at his face.. I still don’t know how he did it. I can’t imagine the grief in his heart. He kept saying “I’m sorry” over and over again and quietly whispered “I just wish Grandma was here” through his tears.

But we danced.

This memory.. I will have for a lifetime. I will cherish these pictures forever. Thank you, dear friend for taking them.

It’s so surreal. Our entire family is stretched thin with grief. I’m sure as the days pass we’ll slowly regain our strength.

But for right now..all we can do is pray. And love. and thank God for the precious moments we still have.. and the memories we’ll hold on to forever.

She was a beautiful woman. She touched many lives.

Their love was rare.

Her legacy will live through generations to come.

After all, Kate and I are going to finish the quilt together.

Please pray for Grandpa’s broken heart. And his children as they try to piece it back together.

Joy. Will. Grow.

Much, much, much, love..

Laura Edmonds


41 thoughts on “Grandpa Danced, and Grandma Smiled

  1. I wouldn’t have traded a single moment with you that day. You are my rock. My stronger half. My big heart and my pretty smile. I feel so blessed to have been with you through every up and every down of that day. I love you <3

  2. Oh, Laura, I am heartsick to read this and at the same time, the strength and love you and your family showed each other is simply amazing. This was so beautifully written and the pictures…well I’m a sobbing mess. I so proud to know you and Ray and wish you all the love in the world.

  3. Laura i couldn’t image what was going through your head that morning. When i read one of your cousins comments my heart ached for you! I’m very glad you all could enjoy your special day and i’m so very glad she was there with you guys! I hope it was very special and everything you ever dreamd it could be!! CONGRATS on the highest level and i am also so very sorry for your loss. And to let u know this story touched my heart. You are one of the strongest people i know and i hope with time your strength will return!! Best wishes

  4. Laura, I’m so proud of you. I couldn’t imagine going through that. You are one strong woman and God has big plans for you. Congratulations and sending lots of prayers for you. Thank you again for allowing me the honor of creating your jewelry for your special day. Many blessings, Melissa

  5. Wiping away the tears. What a touching and beautiful coverage of a special lady. One thought on “Grandpa danced, and Grandma smiled.” What a hard thing to have to endure on your Wedding Day. So glad everyone could continue with the Wedding and the Beautiful Memories for the young Bride and Groom. To have the pictures and the Special Dance with her Grandfather with be cherished forever. So sorry for the Family”s loss of a Beautiful Member of their Family. What a touching way this was covered and the special way everyone made the Day be Special for all. Especially helping a broken heart heal with the Loss of the Love of his Life and the new beginnings of a Young Love for the new Marriage of his Granddaughter. What a Bitter sweet day this was. Blessing to all. Deeply Touched. Wanda Mullins

  6. Beautifully written Laura, I had no idea that your sweet grandma passed on. I will be sure to keep you all especially your very sweet grandpa in my thoughts and prayers. Oh by the way, your wedding was was beautiful, I so enjoyed viewing the beautiful photos of the wedding.You are a beautiful lady inside and out. My prayer for you and Ray is that God will bless you with all the health and happiness that he blessed your grandparents with, what a blessing!!

  7. Laura, this is the greatest testimony to “Gods grace is sufficient” that I have ever read! I have felt that Grace, and know just how thankful you were for it. God bless your family! The joy shining in your face in your wedding pictures also pictures Gods love and Grace. Praying for you all!

  8. what a beautiful story of God’s love and grace – and how comforting to know with certainty that you will see Grandma again one day. Thank you for sharing these tender memories.

  9. So very sad! But so very beautiful! I couldnt imagine ur or ur families pain, but aleast she showed u all a beautiful memory to last forever! I hav 2 daughters i hope i can b this precious of a grandma! Prayers with u n ur family!

  10. Laura, you were beautiful bride. Grandmaw was with you and granpaw in very step of your dance toghter. She will always be your heart. Grandmaw was a very speacil lady. I read your words of love,know your pain but remember Grandmaw was there very step of the way. Love you, Aunt Debbie

  11. Laura this is so beautiful. You and your family are in my prayers. You were so beautiful. I can remember you playing in the yard years ago. you should still be that little girl. But so grown up and beautiful.Wishing you all the HAPPINESS in the world!!!

  12. Laura this made me cry. I prayed for you all that day! I am so touched by this you and your family have always been an inspiration to me. Hope you and Ray have a happy life together and I just loved the pictures of you and your grandpa dancing together. So precious!!

  13. This made me cry. i have never read anyhting as touching as this was. I had the privelage of knowing your Grandma and Grandpa. Mrs. Holderfield taught me in school then my daughter. My son was in the same grade as Jay and played football and basketball together for years. I was always excited to see your Grandma and Grandpa and the whole family at the games. She was an amazing woman and she changed my life in school and taught me so much not just the studies but about life. She is smiling down on your family with that beautiful smile she had and talking to God. God bless you all . Hope you and your husband have a wonderful life together always keep God close and everything will be okay. Hugg your Grandpa for me.

  14. You must know how happy and proud of you all she is for making this day one of a kind , everyone doing their part..Not that it was easy as we all know it was not .. But you are a part of her Mary Alice she would have had it no other way…..What a wonderful tribute to her and Joe’s love and a bond in a family that is not often seen anymore ..So much to be proud of .. May blessing be with you and yours for 60 years and more.. Thank you for sharing what a true family is all about …

  15. Laura, as I sit here wiping away my tears, I must tell you that these are some of the most beautiful words that I have ever read. Your grandparents both sound like such amazing people with a story of a beautiful and rare love. Thank you for sharing and I wish you and Ray all the happiness in the world!

    • Mrs. Laura Holderfield – I just love saying that :) and I know you love hearing it. I have never ever ever been to a more beautiful wedding. Ray’s uncle did an AMAZING job, along with you & Ray of course. Even though it was a very difficult day, your love for each other, your families love was just glowing and inspirational to all in attendance. The “ease” of the ceremony (it felt relaxed), and taking each moment in was beautiful. Your vows to each other were amazing. There wasn’t a dry eye there when Jacob placed the flower on Mary Alice’s chair next to your Grandpa Joe. Joe’s & everyone’s strength was an amazing testimony to God’s grace & strength. God held you guys up and gave you the strength and ability to be happy even though it was a sad day. And tears rolled again when we saw him come & ask you to dance – WHOAA – what a moment! Not just tears of sadness, but tears of extreme joy for you because I know that made your day. It made everything ok in a way. I feel Grandma was nudging him and helping him to help you & the others. Even though you’re going through this loss, I want you to know that you are absolutely blessed beyond measure to have such a loving family and to have known her all these years. Some of us (myself) didn’t grow up with any grandparents’ so I’m always telling people to cherish that time. We know you’ll see her again. We’re all continuing to pray for ALL of you and your extended family. With much love, Judy.
      PS – thank you so much for having the strength to share this. I’ve been anxiously awaiting an update here – since I don’t Facebook this is where I go to see the latest and I love reading yours posts.

    • OOPS – I was supposed to say Ms. Laura Edmonds :) Can’t believe I did that – I actually realized last night as I was getting ready for bed, I had a thought that I better check it. I was crying so much from reading this it’s a wonder I got anything out right :) Love you !

  16. Laura, hearing your story has touched and broken my heart yet given me a smile at the same time. I know how much it hurts to loose a grandparent so close to you. My heart goes out to you and your family. Cherish every moment and every second you have together. I am so happy for you and Ray. I wish you both the most and best in life. My heart goes out to your Grandfather. It is a rare and special thing to have experienced love that deep and that strong. Just know she is looking down, smiling… Glory be to God the highest… the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away…but to be taken home is the Lords most precious gift. My deepest sympathy and my utmost joy for you and Ray.

  17. I can’t stop crying.
    I feel like God just reached down and tugged at my heart for you.. I know you don’t know me, and may never meet me, but I want you to know that you’ve humbled me today. You’ve reminded me how precious our happy moments are.
    Last night, I celebrated my close friend’s birthday (she passed away 3 months ago), and the only thing that gets me through is knowing she’s happy where she is, and would want me to do the same.
    God bless you in your future, honey. I wish the happiest of blessings to you and your family. You made a beautiful bride, and I know your grandma had to have been so proud. <3

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  20. Only through Gods grace can we walk through the Valleys…he givew you peace beyond understanding.. My dad is Steve Mccollum. I know he feels honored to speak at your grandfathers funeral today…

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