This story takes place almost exactly one year ago. Mac’s arrival was still about a month away. My wife and I headed back to her hometown of Neenah Wisconsin for the weekend. Her Aunt and her mom were throwing her a baby shower in anticipation of our son. I got to hang out with my brother-in-law and father-in-law while the women enjoyed their party. What I remember most about this weekend was the special experience we shared the next day. A small group of us went to the nursing home to visit my wife’s grandpa Jim. These visits were always meaningful for me, as I had lost all of my grandparents several years earlier. On the drive in from Minneapolis, my wife and I were discussing baby names, as we so often did on our trips to Wisconsin. We had settled on James for the middle name after my wife’s grandpa Jim. We agreed that this trip would be the best opportunity to tell her grandfather that we were using his name for our son’s middle name. I’ll never forget when her grandpa looked up at both of us and said, “you’re naming him after me?” It was clear that he understood our intentions and was excited about our decision. We smiled and took a few pictures. We discussed the weather and sports, particularly the Packers and Brewers. We said our goodbyes and I love yous and gave hugs, as we always did when we left.
Little did we know at the time that this would be the last time we all would see Grandpa Jim alive. That night he went to sleep and did not wake up. He passed away peacefully in his sleep just weeks before his new great grandson would be born. We feel fortunate that we got the opportunity to tell him about using his name as our son’s middle name, instead of waiting until Mac was born. My mother-in-law says that Grandpa was so excited that we were using his name that he had to go tell his wife, Grandma Marie, in heaven. I’ll never forget this special time we spent with him just hours before his passing.