Thursday, July 21, 2011

The hardest part

I am afraid to say I haven't had it in me to write a blog post this week.  My heart has been heavy, weighed down with the difficulties of what comes with age, the tough part of growing up and losing those we love.  I've said good bye to so many people who were close to me throughout my life, and as I told my nephew once when he was struggling with it himself, I wish I could say it gets easier with age.  He was 11 at the time and sad that his great-grandpa was of ill health.   I sat there with him on the couch, just so he knew I was there, and I told him what I thought about death in terms of what a teenager could understand.  It sucks.  It just does.   And it sucks no matter how old you are.  It just sucks.  And what sucks even more?  Watching someone you love suffer before they do pass to the other side.
I have one grandparent left, my mom's dad.  Grandpa George.  He means the world to me.  He's one of the smartest men I know (aside from my father, of course), and he just cares so much for his family.  After my Grandma died in 2000, I became closer to him, driving from Bloomington to see him for a Friday night dinner, sending him cards just so he knew I missed him, and even calling every now and then.  The phone conversation would last exactly 30 minutes, and I remember after those first few months he was so excited about how he was learning to cook soup and take care of himself.  He was becoming more independent.  He was lonely, though, and that was why it meant so much to me to spend time with him when I could. 
He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2006 after a heart attack he suffered the weekend after my law school graduation.  He had triple bypass surgery and a valve replacement, and he just hasn't been the same since.  As he has gotten older, his health has faltered off and on and has quickly deteriorated over the past year.  This last spring, my mom and her siblings had to make the tough decision to put him in assisted living.  See, because of his heart failure, his kidneys were shutting down, too, and he was forgetting things like what day it was, whether he ate, whether he took his pills.  It just got scary.  So he was put in a home sometime in April.  And I don't think he's understood or remembered why he was put in assisted living.  I was told yesterday that he doesn't even remember that I was married in September or that he was at the wedding.  He didn't remember it at all. 
This past weekend, he was put in the hospital because fluid was building up throughout his entire body.  His kidneys and his heart can't keep up, so they've drained five liters of fluid out, and he's going to a rehab facility for the time being.  The problem is...this fluid is going to return.  His kidneys are functioning at 20 percent, and they will not get better.  We have no long term plans at this point, just short term ones.The plan?  Get him well enough so that he can spend the weekend of July 30th with his family.  My entire family is coming together for a reunion next weekend.  We hope that he'll be well enough to join us for part of it, but if he is not, it has been decided we will see him in shifts at the nursing home.  But I truly hope he does get the chance to spend a day with his entire family, surrounded by those he loves.

It hit me yesterday after I spoke to my mother that this may very well be the last time I speak to my Grandpa (in this life, at least).   The thought of this crushed me last night, and I finally let the weight of all of this hit me and cried...I mean, really let myself cry, about it.  I thought about what I would want to say to him.  I love you?  That's a given.  But it just doesn't feel like enough.

Many years ago, we started a tradition....well, he started it.  He would hug me good bye, kiss me on the cheek and say "I'm so glad you got to see me today!"  It always made me laugh, and it became a thing...we'd try to beat each other to it.  I still say that to him when I say good bye.  "Grandpa, I'm so glad you got to see me today."  But really, I think when I hug him good bye next weekend, to me, it's quite the opposite.  "Grandpa, I'm so glad I got to see you today." 

It's hard.  I don't want to lose him, but I don't want him to live the life he's living now.  Because it's not much of a life.  I want him to be with my Grandma in heaven.  But as I told T last night, I would love to just spend one more day....with both him and my Grandma.  I miss her so much.  And it's breaking my heart because I know I'll miss him just the same. 
So I hope you'll excuse me for the next few days if I don't blog as often as I normally do.  I'll try to write as I can, but my heart...and my mind, for that matter, just isn't in it.  But I do ask that you keep this special man in your prayers and thoughts.


  1. I'm so so sorry Nain. I know this isn't enough... But I'm pretty sure there are no words that will make you feel better. Right? I can relate and know how much you are suffering (my 86-year-old uncle has cancer, and the mere thought of losing him makes me cry and breaks my heart).
    I'll keep your grandfather and all your family in my prayers. I promise.

  2. I lost my grandmother to the same thing. After her last hospitalization to remove the fluid, her kidneys were functioning at 2%. Her doctors said she had a month left, she made it five weeks. That was the hardest five weeks ever. I was working and did not have any vacation time, so every single weekend I spent with her.

    Anyway, this is making me cry all over again and this November will be 4 years since she left us. But I just wanted you to know that I can relate, and I'll be thinking about you and your family.

  3. OH sweetie, I am dealing with a lot of this with my mom.. and it terrifies me cause I am not ready to let go. Though she is not as bad as this her health is definitely on a downhill slope. Sending you much love and prayers

  4. My grandparents passed away when I was very young so I hardly remember them, but I became very close to my husband's grandparents and was devistated when his grandfather passed 2 years ago. More than watching him go, it was so hard to watch his health deteriorate and turn into this shell of who he was. I'll never forget the last time he hugged and kissed me goodbye and told me thank you for always listening to him talk and being so nice to him, but that he was ready to go. He passed away the next day and I am comforted knowing that he held on as long as he could, but is in a much better place now.

    I'll be thinking of you and your family, and wishing you all peace in your hearts. xo

  5. I'm so sorry, Nain. My prayers are going out to you and your family.

  6. You have me in tears Nain, as you know this falls so close to my heart. Take any time you can to spend with him now, this is all part of the end. (or the beginning of his new better life) I feel really good about where my grandpa is now, he was my last grandparent too, I just feel really thankful for the time we did had and truly happy that his suffering has ended. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  7. I've gotten behind in my blog reading and missed this, then I saw your tweet, so I came to check. Nain I am so sorry. It is so hard to see those we love suffer, and it is so hard to say good-bye to them. As long as they have breath we have hope of healing on this earth. I will be praying for you and your family. I am praying that everyone gets a chance to see him.

    Godspeed Nain.


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