In the wake of preacher Billy Graham’s passing, the media has been contacting his eldest son for comment. And he has gladly offered to speak for the family and tell the country what they’ve wanted to know about the legendary pastor’s last days.
“God for some reason just touched my father and blessed him, and so the successes, he’d want everybody to know that it was God that did it, and not him,” the Rev. Franklin Graham told TODAY.
Although Graham was influential the world-over, the preacher, who died at the age of 99, never considered himself a celebrity. And according to his son, he always gave the credit of his success to God.
Graham passed away at his North Carolina home after more than 80 years teaching the gospel and spreading Christianity across the globe.
“I kind of chuckled because my father said years ago, ‘When you hear that Billy Graham is dead, don’t you believe it for a second,’” Franklin Graham said. “He said, ‘I’ll be more alive than ever before.’ He’s in the presence of God, so we rejoice, and we’re thrilled that his suffering is over.”
Billy Graham had been suffering from Parkinson’s diseases since the 1990s. And in his final days, he was confined to a wheelchair and his bed.
Despite his physical problems, his son said that Graham’s “mind was always clear.”
The final five years of his life were stricken with physical immobility. But he “never got foggy.”
His son added, “He never got where he didn’t understand. He just couldn’t hear very well. He couldn’t see. But you could communicate with him.”
Even on Sunday, when his son Franklin Graham spoke to him, “he was mentally still very much alert.”
Franklin vowed that the man the world knew as the evangelical Christian preacher was the same man who was in the home.
“Billy Graham that the world saw on television or saw on the big screen was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home,” he said of his father. “He wasn’t two people. He spent his life telling people about heaven, how to get to heaven. He wrote books on heaven. Now he’s in heaven.”
Graham had the uncanny ability to connect with everyone on a personal level. Even those who were not Christian could not deny that Graham had a magical way of building a bridge between people. That’s one of the reasons he had an influence on presidents for decades.
His son hopes people will remember his father as a preacher. That topic came up a decade ago when Ruth, the family’s matriarch, passed on.
“When my mother passed away, we knew what she wanted on her tombstone, so I asked my father, so there wouldn’t be any argument among us children, ‘Daddy, what do you want on your tombstone?’” Franklin Graham recalled. “He thought about that. He said, preacher. So that’s what’s going to be on his tombstone. Preacher.”
Did you ever get a chance to hear Billy Graham speak? What do you remember about him?