The day already carried a heavy dose of emotional turmoil for Angi Grippo. Four generations of her family were converging on a Florida beach for a final outing with her beloved, dying grandparents.
“I was already sad,” Grippo told InsideEdition.com. “I turned around and I saw my grandfather. He was crying and that just sent me over the edge."
But her grandpa, a 92-year-old World War II vet, was actually shedding tears of joy, because kneeling beside him was Grippo’s boyfriend, Toby, and he was proffering a diamond ring.
“I felt like I couldn’t even breathe. I was so shocked, and to have my whole family there, it just meant so much to me,” she said.
Her now-fiance had planned the proposal behind her back, and in cahoots with her parents. She had shared with Toby her deep anguish that her dying grandparents, with whom she is extremely close, would not live to see her get married.
So Toby did the best he could under the circumstances.
He decided to pop the question at the family’s beach reunion, so at least Grippo’s grandparents would know she was headed toward matrimony, even if they wouldn’t see her walk down the aisle.
"I had no idea what was happening," Grippo said. "I just thought that we were all getting together,” she said. So she told herself, “Let’s try to make this the best vacation for them possible."
Her grandfather had asked for a last meeting at the shore. He was succumbing to the vagaries of old age and Grippo’s grandmother, 85, was very sick with stage four cancer. "They wanted everyone there together,” she said, breaking into tears. “To have one last trip with all of us, to see the ocean... to see all of us and be able to give us one last hug and kiss.”
Then Toby’s proposal turned the tide of sadness into a glimpse of a promising future ahead.
“For them to see this moment in my life,” Grippo said, “knowing they probably won’t be able to come to my wedding, meant a tremendous amount to me.”
Seeing their shining faces, she said, "It was like everyone else was gone in the world. It was just Toby, myself, and my grandparents.”
Doris Grippo, Angi’s mother, was there and took in every minute.
She was gripped by an overwhelming sense of seizing the day, and living life to the fullest.
“Don’t wait until the last minute to do the things that are important to you,” she said. “Tell people you love them. Tell them that you are sorry. Take the trip. Take the trip!
“Change the job that makes you miserable. Pursue your passions. And visit your grandparents!”