Sooo, I learned a few things this past weekend when I went to visit my grandpa in the hospital. He’s in very poor health and moved back home yesterday to have hospice care until he passes. This is what I learned:
1. When you have to say your final goodbyes, there’s no right thing to say other than “I love you.”
2. Being a christian and believing in god/heaven doesn’t mean you’ll be at peace with your life ending.
3. Dying is confusing.
4. “Comfort care” means letting someone starve or dehydrate to death without pain because there’s nothing else that can be done to fix their many ailments.
5. A person in the process of dying doesn’t look or act like themselves.
6. Watching someone in the process of dying is physically painful.
7. My grandpa is dying.
8. He knows he’s dying.
9. He’s not ready to go.
10. I saw him for the last time Sunday morning.
11. I’m not handling any of this very well.
To say that I don’t deal well with grief is very much an understatement. I know that about myself. It takes very little to make me cry or feel the urge to cry. I get that from my mom. My dad and both my sisters hold themselves together much better than I do. So, seeing my dad cry was almost too much for me.
My grandpa is an interesting fella. My grandparents met in 1955, grandpa was 28 and grandma, 29. They married about 6 months later. I love love love how unconventional and progressive they were back then. Grandpa is a WWII vet and he’s the oldest of 12 kids so you can imagine the stories we’ve heard growing up. When we were kids and he was in good health, he used to dance all around with us and drive us around on his bike. He had a little jig and a song for absolutely everything, especially our birthdays, which would rhyme whenever possible. He was also a stubborn old bastard. He refused to get a hearing aid even though we all have had to repeat ourselves about 11 times in every conversation for years. He always had to win at cards, even when he wasn’t really winning. Even still, he’s surprising his doctors by holding on and not giving up until his body absolutely has to. His body is falling apart, but his mind is not, which I think is why he’s not ready. It’s heartbreaking.
My dad grew up in a small town, a black hole kind of town where everyone stays and even when they leave, almost everyone comes back quickly after. My dad was the one exception. My parents moved across the country when my older sister was just a baby and we didn’t come back to Colorado until I was in high school. No one in my dad’s family was thrilled about how far away we lived. I spent so much time being happy that I didn’t grow up in that small town. Happy I’ve gotten to live in bigger cities and meet more people and not hear news about my family from my neighbors. Now I find myself wishing I’d spent more time there. My cousins all got to see our grandparents almost every day. I don’t have as many memories and it’s hard not to feel sad about that, especially now.
The last time I saw my grandpa before this hospital visit was my cousin’s wedding. I’m the oldest unmarried cousin so apparently that means I’m next in line. He asked if I was seeing anyone and when I’d be getting married. Feeling snarky (and maybe I little tipsy) I was joking about how I didn’t need to get married and how I’d be perfectly fine being single for the rest of my life because I don’t need a man to be happy, blah blah. Anyway, so he said, “Oh don’t say that! I sure hope you get married before I die.” And I sighed and said, “Me too.”
And now here we are. I feel so sad that he won’t get to see me get married and have kids someday. That my boyfriend will never get to meet him. That I didn’t spend more time going to visit. That he won’t live forever like I’d always hoped all of my family would because this is just too hard.