Chapters 48-49 Summary
Grandpa is in bad shape, and in pain. Grandpa’s pride is also hurt, as he admits. Mary Willis helps Love nurse him. One time Will is spying on Grandpa and Love in the bedroom and sees them lying side by side on the bed talking affectionately. Grandpa confides that he feels God’s presence helping him to stand the pain. Love feels the presence too. Grandpa preaches his last sermon to Love on the verse that puzzles Will: ask and it shall be given to you. Grandpa says it means you will receive spiritual gifts. God guarantees spiritual healing.
Will hears them say “I love you” to one another and thinks this is the missing chapter. He hopes they will live happily ever after, but there is more to come. Grandpa gets worse and coughs up blood. He has pneumonia and a high fever. Miss Love, Loma, and Mary Willis take turns sponging him off to get the fever down.
Love tells Will if Grandpa dies she won’t stay in Cold Sassy. Will prays for Grandpa to get well, but Grandpa is delirious and speaks to Mattie Lou. Love tells Will she is pregnant but can’t tell Grandpa because he is out of his mind. She hopes for a clear moment when she can tell him, hoping it will give him the motive to stay alive. When the fever breaks, Love tells her husband the secret, and then he dies.
Chapters 48-49 Commentary
The “last chapter” of the story of Grandpa and Love is happy in that they have finally consummated their love in every possible way. Miss Love is gazing at him “like he was Prince Charming” (p. 365). The last thing Grandpa hears is that a child is on the way. Grandpa preaches his own funeral sermon, his Credo, his belief in God.
First, he says the best prayer is just to feel God’s presence, not necessarily asking for something. If one does ask Jesus for something, it should be for spiritual gifts like faith. For Grandpa, faith is “jest a way a-livin’ . . . you accept whatever happens” (p. 363).