At a Chicago concert on his 2016 tour, Mellencamp told this story when introducing the song:
"My grandmother lived to be 100 years old, and she was doing pretty good until she got to 99 and 3/4. And then that last quarter kind of got her. She's the only woman that ever really loved me. She never called me John, she always called me Buddy. She called me up and said, 'Buddy, why don't you come over here and spend the afternoon with me because I'm not going to be here much longer.'
She was bedridden, so I had to lay in bed to talk to her. But one day, we're laying there talking, and she said, 'Buddy, we need to pray.' She started saying a prayer we all grew up with, then I noticed her breathing was getting kind of heavy, and next thing I know, her voice is kind of raising in volume and she says, 'Me and Buddy are ready to come home!'
I said, 'Grandma, Buddy is not ready to come home. Buddy has a lot more sinning he intends on doing.'
Well, I shouldn't have said that. She says, 'It's just like you to say something smart-alec-y at a time like this. And you're not going to get to heaven yourself if you don't stop that cussing and smoking.'
Then we locked eyes, and the strangest thing happened. Her face turned into a 13-year-old girl, and her voice even changed. She looked at me with such love and affection, and she goes, 'You know Buddy, you're going to find out one day real soon that life is short, even in its longest days.'"