Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Grandpa...and Goodbye

The last month has been hell. I lost my grandfather on Friday, July 9. My father called me the day before barely able to control his own emotional despair (marking the second time in my entire life having heard him cry) to tell me my grandfather had been hospitalized and put on a morphine drip to make him comfortable. I spent the next four hours at the hospital just sitting with him, trying to encourage him to eat when lunch came, making him more comfortable when he became fussy, until he fell asleep. My boyfriend brought me my favorite dinner and beverage and ate with me in the cafeteria before going back and saying goodbye.

I tried to go to work the next day, but couldn't concentrate. I left with the intent to go back to the hospital, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I went home and alternated between sleeping and crying. My father called me at 6pm to tell me my grandfather passed at 2pm while they were making arrangements to have him transferred to hospice care.

He loved to boast to me and others that I was his favorite, the "golden grandchild" as he would often call me. He loved to threaten boyfriends about taking proper care of me. I was the only one he would waste air preaching to, despite my grandmother's protests that he shouldn't. Every time I saw him, he always had something to give me, whether a new coin to share (he loved collecting) or a bag of candy from Grocery Outlet (he later became known to pretty much everyone, affectionately if not slightly creepy, the Candy Man). All my life, he was a rock I could talk to, and even the day before he died, my grandmother lamented about how she couldn't get him to talk to her, but he would still talk to me.

Several years ago he went in for what they thought would be a double-bypass surgery. He must have known it would be bad or they gave him a weird survival percentage because he seemed very desperate just before going in for surgery. It ended up being a quadruple-bypass surgery and he came out without complications. The downside was that he would never be able to play golf again, his true first love even though he was terrible at it (I have fond memories of driving him and his golf buddies around on a golf cart trying to dodge old men trying to pimp out their grandsons to tame the wild goth chick). He resolved to play cards at the various fraternities he belonged to. About a year ago, his doctor advised the DMV to administer a driving test, which he of course failed.

He told me at our New Year's Day dinner that this was going to be his year. And not in a celebratory, everything is going to turn around sort of way, but in a this-is-going-to-be-the-year-I-die way. He stopped communicating with family members. His appetite (already significantly reduced after the bypass years ago) dwindled even more. His freedom completely stripped, he suffered from depression. Four months later, he fell and broke his leg. It was weeks before they could do surgery on it. He was then confined to a recliner getting up with lots of assistance only to use the bathroom and eat on occasion. He became increasingly depressed, until he stopped eating and talking altogether. He was admitted into St Agnes sometimes Wednesday, July 7.

I didn't have an opportunity to really acknowledge or deal with the loss of my grandfather, with whom (if you couldn't tell) I was very close. Alongside my own loss, I was having to help support my boyfriend in a custody battle for his son. The combination of stressors had me lose sleep for over two weeks and unable to get the nurturing I needed from the person I needed it from the most. It's taken me awhile to realize how much animosity I'm still carrying from all of that.

Today would have been my grandfather's 89th birthday. The family is going to go to dinner, like we always do, to celebrate. I'm thankful for the near 29 years I had to know him and to love him. But now it's time to say goodbye.