Friday, February 26, 2010
The end of a legend
It seems as though this has been a week of new beginnings. A few friends have given birth to new beautiful lives, then there was all the excitement of court dates and traveling and possibilities for our new life and a fresh start for Bay. And in the midst of this, one life has been slipping, quickly and quietly away. But instead of calling this an end I'd like to add it to the list of new beginnings.
Grampa Died this morning, Mom and Gramma had stepped out of his room to go down to gramma's apartment for a minute, and he left this world while they were gone. It was 11:45 am. My oldest sister had flown in from LA this morning to say her goodvyes, but due to snow in NY she was delayed. She was supposed to get in at 11:00 and the airport was just minutes from the nursing home. They would have been there by 1130, just in time to say goodbye. Grampa new better than to let this happen. He slipped away while no one was looking.(he knew she would be here for her mom, like she would so badly need in the immediate aftermath ). You'll often hear this from others who have experienced death of a loved one, or social workers and nurses who work in hospice, and it sure does hold to be true!
Grampa is the captain of his ship! always has been, and even until the moment he took his last breath. He made sure his wife of 66 years was all moved and settled into her new apt, yet he didn't stick around long enough to force anyone into having to make an impossible decision for him. Mom had been struggling with whether or not to place a feeding tude or IV for hydration in the last few days. She was suffering knowing that he was hurting from hunger and thirst, but also knowing that his body was shutting down the way nature designed it to.Grampa took care of it on his own. We all knew he wasn't going to live this way for long. A man like grampa doesn't sit in a wheel chair in the hallway of a nursing home being spoon fed ice cream. A man like grampa drives around in a mini cooper, works out at the Y everyday, rides his bike, walks his dog, tells jokes and stories from the past.He has lived his life to the absolute fullest and died with dignity.
As a nurse I am tempted to write about all the specifics of how he died, which systems shut down, how his heart problems lead to kidney problems, etc.. But instead I will say that his body gave up at 87 years old and he died a short while after. He has had a bad heart for a while, began to show signs of dementia back in November, and last Saturday he has a lot of edema (swelling) and his wedding band sure looked tight.
He and gramma were married for 66 years! Now grampa is reunited with his beautiful, youngest daughter Ann (my wonderful Aunt who passed away in July after a 2 year struggle with pancreatic cancer), his dog Jacques (who passed away in oct 2007 after being hit by a car, the morning of my baby show for adi) His dog Beau,( who passed a little while back, not exactly how or when, but he is buried in their old house's back yard) and probably many many more dogs that I never knew. The man loved his dogs.
The last few things he said to me was that he was "going to see his parents" and when I mentioned that I never did get to drive that Mini cooper, he still managed to make me laugh (although he was serious)"my heart bleeds for you" he said. I love you grampa, and I miss you so much. May your journey to your new beginning be beautiful.