At a critical time in the presidential race and just two weeks from Election Day, Senator Barack Obama is forced to pause his presidential campaign for two days to visit his 85-year-old grandmother who has fallen ill in Hawaii.

Madelyn Dunham raised the Chicago senator from adolescence to when he left home to go to college. In his speeches, Obama often speaks of her selfless nature, sacrificing much of her own needs for him as he was growing up.

In a statement explaining his decision to leave the campaign trail, senior advisor Robert Gibbs said: “In the last few weeks, Senator Obama’s grandmother’s health has deteriorated to the point where her situation is very serious. It is for that reason that Senator Obama has decided to change his schedule on Thursday and Friday so that he can see her and spend some time with her. He will be returning to the campaign trail on Saturday.”

Michelle Obama will fill in for her husband until he returns.

Over the weekend, Obama received the hefty endorsement of retired General Colin Powell and was joined by Senator Hillary Clinton at a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Monday.