It’s Monday March 17th. Three thirty in the morning to be exact, and I am not asleep and have not had good sleep for days and days, so although I’m making this blog post, and yes I’m a writer, the grammar and whatnot will probably be craptastic, so please, forgive me.
The last couple of weeks have been a tornado of doctors, hospitals, tears, worry and fear. You see, my grandfather has been living with us for the last four years. The last year or so his health has been tenuous to say the least. We made several trips to the emergency room, spending many nights on hard uncomfortable stretchers while he was poked and prodded with needles and IVs, all the time asking when he could go home. He was 81 and suffering from Congestive Heart Failure along with COPD and Emphysema, among other things.
I grew up in my grandfather’s home and he was ‘Dad’ to me. He was the father in my life. I was thinking about it in the last few weeks and in all that time I can’t remember him ever really saying an unkind word to me. He had a sweet and gentle nature, even when terribly ill. A nurse who had been poking and prodding him for hours once remarked to me, “He’s an agreeable little fellow isn’t he?” I laughed. “All his life,” I said.
Two weeks ago he, for the first time ever in his life, did not get out of bed for two whole days. He wasn’t eating or drinking either. We called an ambulance to transport him to the hospital because he was too weak to get in a cab. This wasn’t the first time we’d had to do this, and honestly, when they took him out that day I was sure he’d be back, just like every other time. Turns out this time was different.
A few days ago the doctors let us know that there was no recovering this time. Basically his body was wearing out and they would focus on ‘comfort care’. In the back of my mind I guess I knew this was going to happen, but still, it’s a shock to hear it. It’s hard to imagine the one person who’s always been there for you without hesitation or judgement will just be gone. But that’s just what happened.
Tonight, at around seven o’clock, I held my Dad’s hand as he passed away. That may sound awful, but you know what? It really wasn’t. We were alone, and I turned up the heat to make the room was toasty warm just the way he liked it, and I had made sure to keep the door closed all afternoon so he could have quiet. In that little room in the stillness it was just he and I as he took his last breath and slipped away from this world. It may sound crazy but it was as peaceful and beautiful as the birth of any baby. Although my eyes hurt from crying and my head and heart ache, it really hasn’t been the worst day of my life. It’s actually been one of the best. I’m so lucky and grateful that I got to be there for it. It was truly a privilege. My mother worked in nursing homes for many years and often told me it was, but I didn’t truly understand that until now.
After he passed away I didn’t call the nurse in right away. I sat and talked to him for fifteen minutes or so and just kept holding his hand. In your life many people will love you, but if you’re lucky, nobody will love you quite like your Dad, and indeed, I was incredibly lucky.
Thank you Dad, for everything. Especially for doing all the things you didn’t have to do like raise a child that wasn’t even your own. Not for one minute did you ever make me feel like a burden or a problem, even though the horrible bouts of my illness, you still only just loved and cared for me. You were a true gentleman, and a human rarity, and I’ll love and miss you for the rest of my life.