“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51

 

“I’ll see you there.”  We say it often and never really think too much about it when making plans to meet a friend later for coffee or making sure our child knows we’re coming to their ballgame.  I’ve said it probably hundreds, maybe thousands, of times myself.  It’s just a quick way to confirm our presence at a future event.  A simple statement.

 

My grandpa, Pops, passed away from lymphoma two days before Thanksgiving.  By itself, that event brings enough sadness and grief for our family.  But five days prior to his death, my grandma, GG, fell at their home and fractured her pelvis.  She was taken to a hospital and then to an in-patient rehabilitation center.  As you can imagine, she was suffering from severe pain as well as the anxiety of leaving my grandpa at home while he was in his last days.  Their separation was agonizing to witness.  So my aunt, uncles and mom went to work in trying to figure out how the two of them could share Thanksgiving together, just one last time.  It was like an act of congress, but the doctors approved a 4-hour leave on Thanksgiving via ambulance to get my GG to my Pops back at their ranch in Texas for them to say their goodbyes.  Of course, our whole family made plans to be there!  When Pops heard of these grand plans, it became apparent that he had plans of his own.  He didn’t want his wife of 70 years, his sweetheart, the love of his life, to see him suffering.  He made that abundantly clear.  Each time he would wake up from a nap and in the morning over that last weekend, he would sigh in disappointment and say, “Oh, I thought…” or “Why is this taking so long?”  It wasn’t that he was in pain or that he didn’t know where he was.  His mind was as sharp as a tack!  He was ready to go home.  His real home.  He loved his Father and was completely sure of his future.  Yes, my 91-year-old grandpa has a future. 

 

On Monday evening, he asked my aunt Bonny all about the grandkids and great-grands, talking about Reed and Brighton and even expressing what a great thing Cole was doing studying in Argentina.  He heard my cousin Tori in the kitchen and sang, “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah”—every word, every verse and on tune.  (We get our musical abilities in my family from Pops.) 

 

That night, we were told he had about a week left.  Bonny told Pops that GG was coming for Thanksgiving, hoping this would give him hope to be strong for a few more days. But those who know my Pops know that Tom Spoonts is a stubborn man.  The next morning, my mom and uncle had a difficult time getting him to wake up.  He didn’t seem conscious.  Bonny and Tori were with GG and FaceTimed my mom’s phone.  As soon as Pops heard GG’s voice, he opened his eyes—bright-eyed—but couldn’t speak.  GG, in her wisdom, selflessness and confidence in her Savior, told my Pops, “I love you so much, Tom.  It’s okay.  I’m going to be fine.  Go on.  I’ll see you there.” 

 

When the call ended, Pops took his three last breaths. 

 

This husband of 70+ years, dad of 5, grandpa of 12, great-grandpa of 25, elder in the church, business owner, retired traffic engineer for the city of Austin, World War II Navy Veteran, published author, missionary to St. Kitts and Kenya KNEW WITHOUT A DOUBT that his life was not over with those last breaths.  He passed that legacy of faithfulness to his children and the next generations. 

 

Two days later, we gathered around my beautiful GG at the rehab center for Thanksgiving.  We brought turkey, dressing and ham with all the traditional fixings including homemade rolls and lots of desserts.  We even smuggled in her puppy Buddy (although I'm pretty sure the entire staff knew but chose to look the other way).  We sang "God Is So Good" and meant every word.  We also went around the table and shared a memory or something we were thankful for about Pops' life.  We all stayed for hours.  The other patients even came out of their rooms and asked us to sing more.  It was a sweet and special day that none of us will ever forget.  

 

Pops' life was not always easy, full of disappointments and heartbreaks.  But he was also such a joyful man, dancing at Reed’s wedding last year, never missing a grandkid or great-grandkid’s graduation if he could possibly help it and always looking forward to that next anniversary or birthday that ended with a zero so he could throw himself another party. He also never liked to sit.  Just two weeks before his diagnosis, he was on a stepladder cutting down dead branches from trees on his Texas ranch.  He never let a family member's birthday or wedding anniversary go by without a gift, card or an email.  He cried with joy when his grandchildren from an estranged son re-entered our lives.  He never blamed, accused or even asked questions.  He was just thankful.  He also never let the National Anthem play without holding his hand over his heart and saluting the flag at the end.  Our country was more than precious to him.  He peeled thousands of potatoes in the galley on a Navy ship.  He became so good at it, his friends called him “Spud”.  He later became a medic and took care of the wounded and got them to safety.  Freedom had a different meaning to him than the NFL players who took a knee, and they should be glad they didn’t have to face my Pops about that. 

 

In his days as a traffic engineer for the City of Austin, he was an inventor of several traffic innovations, including the blue reflectors on the streets that mark the location of fire hydrants for the fire trucks, which are still in use all over the U.S. today.  When you have to wait for the pedestrian light to give you permission to cross the street in front of the Texas State Capitol Building, you can thank my Pops. (Just a couple of fun facts!)

 

While all these accomplishments are wonderful (and there are oh so many more!), he would say that nothing compares to gathering the family together for one of his parties, singing along to Uncle Tommy playing the guitar and laughing with his grands and great-grands, the Bible on his side table and the flag on his coffee table, with his sweetheart by his side.

(Celebrating 70 years together this past March)

 

One day we’ll get to do that again, Pops.

 

I’ll see you there.

 

Tom L. Spoonts

June 7, 1926-November 21, 2017

(Pops' new book arrived 4 days before he passed away.  This was one of the things he wanted to finish.  Good job, Pops!)

 

Do you want that same confidence that my Pops and GG have?  You can have it through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  God became man, died for all our sins, was buried, was raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God, giving us hope that we too will live forever with him.  Don’t go another day without Jesus as your Savior! Life doesn’t have to be over at our last breath.  That’s why the Gospel is Good News!!

Comments

Peggy Kenney:

Dear Missy, what an amazing, wonderful incredibly talented man your Pops was here on earth, what an obvious blessing to the countless lives he touched, and what a remarkable Godly legacy he leaves! Thank you so much for sharing your precious story about his remarkable life, final days, and love of God! God has used and is using you and your entire family to influence and bless others for Him. Thank you for the encouragement you’ve been to me! My dear husband passed suddenly early last January, and I cried as I read of your Pop’s last minutes, such a balm of comfort. I am here in Camarillo CA, next to the raging fires in Ventura (my daughter and family evacuated 3 days ago and are here with me), but we praise God for His goodness and know He reigns, we are citizens of heaven just passing through! Again, thank you and bless you! Oh, I love your beautiful necklaces I ordered, get many compliments, and especially love the name of your company!

Dec 07, 2017

Jackie Sullinger:

I will share this devotional with my fellow church members. I love those last words he heard “I’ll See You There.” As a nurse I’ve witnessed so many passings and have witnessed those who are just simply ready for that awesome moment when they will be at peace. I’ll I thank you so much for sharing these beautifully written words about your Pops & GG and for the pictures to make the blog so personal. Most of all thank you for that ending. That others may read and have the opportunity right now to be able to say “I’ll See You There” at the end of their life’s journey.

God Bless you & your entire family now and for days coming. Jackie from Missouri

Dec 07, 2017

Sheila Burgess:

Thank you for sharing your story. I lost my parents and grandparents several years ago. Some of my best memories were of my grandparents. And because of them I try to be the kind of grandparents they were to me so my granddaughters have that same type of memories. I also lost a very close friend 3 weeks ago and as I spoke at her funeral the last thing I said to her was until we meet again. It is a glorious thought that one day I will reunite with all the loved ones that have gone on before me. God Bless you and your family.

Dec 06, 2017

Peggy Knecht:

Missy,
Thank you so much for sharing such an inspirational story.

Dec 06, 2017

Susan Nault:

Dear Missy, I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my Father 5 years ago and today I am going to my oldest son funeral. My prayers are with you and your family during this time of sadness and hurt. May God be with you and your family always. Our strength and comfort comes from our lord as he is always with us. Love to you and all your family.

Dec 06, 2017

Bill:

So sorry to hear about your pops. To have the faith as strong as he did, as well as my grandfather and great uncles from that era that also served in WWII, it should make us all want to be like them filled with the love of the Lord for everyone. Prayers for you, your GG, and the rest of your family. Remember, God is close to the broken hearted. Prayers that God will continue to help ease all of your pain as well as pulling each and everyone of you closer.

Dec 06, 2017

Kelley Jones. Westover :

Tom and Betty were the couple that put their Christian faith to work. Tom played a critical role in my recovery from addiction. They played a major role in helping my family to get through a very difficult time. My love goes out to Betty and Tommy who I knew the best. Tommy was the best song leader Westover has ever had. God bless the entire family and know that Tom’ loss is felt by this recovering addict.

Dec 06, 2017

Kathi George:

Such a wonderful testament of a man you clearly adored and loved with all of your heart and soul. He surely led a tremendous life and seemed to have left with peace in his heart, as well as joy. Prayers to all who have lost someone they loved dearly. God bless you all.

Dec 06, 2017

Dar Thompson Smeltzer:

Missy, you are such an inspiration to all just like Pops and GG.
Thank You for trying to make our work a better place.
God Bless you, Chase, Mia, Reed and Cole.

Dec 06, 2017

Jessica:

What a wonderful reminder of God’s love for us! Thank you for sharing the story of your Grand parents!! God bless you!!

Dec 05, 2017

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