Grandpa's Final Moments
by Eric J. Krause
A cold breeze washed over him as he stood in the doorway. Since there were no open windows in the warm room, it could only be one thing. Paul didn't believe in ghosts, but that didn't mean he was pig-headed in his skepticism, either.
"Grandpa? Are you awake?"
No answer. Not that he expected one. He had to make sure before he called to Grandma. No tears came at the prospect of that, thank goodness. They would, he knew, but not yet. He needed to stay strong. The task of calling the family would fall on his shoulders. Neither Mom nor Aunt Jan would be up to the task. It was fine. He'd prepared for it. The family phone book lay open next to the old rotary phone, the one he'd always known. It seemed right he should use it and not the modern cordless in the kitchen.
He stepped over to the bed. Grandpa looked so peaceful, still lifelike. He reached down and patted his shoulder, more out of love than trying to wake him. Seemed silly to wake a dead man whose soul wasn't even in the room anymore.
Paul let out a scream and almost toppled over backwards. "G . . . Grandpa?"
"That you yelling, Paul? Did you see Frannie . . . uh . . . Grandma?"
Paul took a deep breath to steady his heartbeat. "She's in the other room, Grandpa. I think she's taking a nap." He let himself smile. "Sorry. I didn't realize you were sleeping. I thought . . ."
Grandpa wheezed in what had to be laughter. Paul had to lean in close to hear what he said next.
"She's not napping. She was just in here, telling me how much she loves me and how I'll be with her in a few minutes."
Grandpa paused, and Paul had to fight the urge to tell him he had been hallucinating. What harm would seeing Grandma one more time do him, even if it wasn't real?
"She also said this was best for everyone and for you all not to dwell on it." He struggled to say something else, but gave up and patted Paul's hand. He lay back, closed his eyes, and drifted off, this time not for a nap.
A tear trickled down Paul's cheek, but he held back any sobs. Grandpa was now at peace, no longer in any pain. And as far as he was concerned, he'd been with Grandma at the end.
Paul took a deep breath and stood up. Best not to delay. Grandma and the family needed to know.
As he reached the doorway, he looked back. If that cold breeze hadn't been Grandpa's escaping soul, what had it been? His stomach lurched and goose bumps exploded all over his body. No.
"Grandma?" She was a light sleeper, especially during the daylight hours. "Grandma?" he yelled again, more urgency behind it. She didn't answer, and he knew why. He sprinted down the hall to where she lay.
She stared at him from her chair, but there was no life behind those eyes. This time he couldn't hold back the sobs.