burning bright in the forests of the night

You know what's weird?

My grandpa died Sunday night.

It seems very surreal. I go back and forth between sad and glad that he's no longer a prisoner of his body, constantly limited by what he can't do.

We didn't expect him to go so soon. He fell on Thursday night (some time after 8, when they go around and check on the residents where he lived), and was found Friday morning on the floor. They took him to the hospital that morning, and luckily my mom doesn't work Fridays and was able to be with him during the admitting process. He seemed very confused by the whole affair, and couldn't remember how he fell or how many people were around him when he woke up. On Saturday, he couldn't remember who was at the hospital with him the day before, though my mom and my aunt were both there all day. Sunday was the same. They also found out on Sunday that he had pneumonia, which when compounded by the small heart attack they think caused the fall as well as some breathing and swallowing problems led to bigger issues. The doctors didn't think that even with treating the pneumonia that he would be the same as he was before he fell, and would most likely need to be in a nursing home. My mom, aunt, and uncle had to make the tough call to decide that they wouldn't put him on antibiotics and to make him comfortable for his last few days.

We didn't expect him to go so soon.

My mom called me while she was waiting to pick up dinner for my her and my aunt when my grandpa passed away. I'm glad my aunt was there with him; I'm sure it meant a lot to her to be with him when he passed.

I'm also sad because Birdy will never be able to know the vibrant people that her Grandma Lorraine and Grandpa Bill were. She never got to have my grandma's Christmas pears, or her amazing pie, or see her paint. She'll never get to have my grandpa teach her how to walk on stilts, or to see him tie a fly, or smell cigar smoke on him when she would give him a hug. She'll never get to have dessert and coffee while playing rummy tile on their big dining room table, which was my first rite of passage into the cosmopolitan world of adults when I was ten.

That is what I'm going to miss--the fact that she'll never have those things; the things that mean a lot to me.

In honor of my grandparents, we had a friend over tonight and had dessert and coffee and played a card game. I have to say that while it was nice, it wasn't the same.

I miss my grandparents. I miss them a lot. I miss who they used to be. I always thought they would outlive us all by sheer will. Then, my grandma fell down the stairs and broke her collarbone, and it all began to move downhill. My grandma wasn't the same afterwords, and from the moment she fell they began to change. They both became old. They became frail. They began to loose the part of themselves that made them who they were to me. My grandma decided she had enough of it--she couldn't take care of her apartment, my grandpa, or herself very well. She decided (with that sheer force of will that she had) that she was done, and decided to stop eating and drinking. When my mom called and told me her decision, I wasn't surprised. The quality of life she had wasn't all that great and she was becoming increasingly frail. I admire that she had the ability and mental strength to decide that enough was enough and that she wanted to leave on her own terms. Would I do the same thing? I'm not sure.

After she passed away (her memorial service was on the same weekend we found out a family member miscarried her baby...it was a shitty weekend, to say the least), my grandpa became more distant and began showing more overt signs of dementia. My mom and her siblings got together and talked to him about not driving anymore, and about moving to an assisted care facility. Without my grandma to boss around (and her not there to boss him around too :-) ), there wasn't a lot for him to do. He would sit and watch TV for most of the day. His daily calls to my mom and aunt grew erratic, and all the siblings (and the sibling's spouses and grandchildren) noticed that things were getting worse. And then he fell on Thursday. And here were are.

I can't imagine what it must be like to loose both of your parents. I think about losing my dad and mom, and it fills me with such a feeling of loneliness. The people who have known you the longest and loved you all the time you've been on this planet suddenly not being there is so profoundly sad to me.

I went in tonight to Birdy's room and picked her up from her crib and hugged her for a long time. Someday, she's going to be old. Someday, she's going to pass away. And I hope, I really really hope, that she has people who love her nearby. I hope they are there to comfort her in her last minutes, even if she isn't aware of it. I want her to die a women who was well loved. I want her to be at peace in the end, even if her body is broken.

I want a lot for Birdy, but most of all?

Most of all, I want a lot of time on Earth with her, and I hope that she loves me as much as my mom and her siblings loved their parents.


Jill said...

I'm thinking of you. This has got to be hard on your mom also. I'll never forget Grandpa and his love of pancakes. Saying some prayers for you and your family.

Katie said...

Oh Heather, I am so sorry to hear about your Grandfather. And your Grandmother. It's never easy to lose the heart and soul of a family. They sound like wonderful people to have known. Even though Birdie may not have the opportunity to feel their love for their family first hand, I know their spirit will live on through you.

mommyneedsanap said...

I've been trying to catch you on the IM, but it hasn't been working out so much. I'm so sorry for your loss and your family's loss. It's the stories and traditions that help keep people present after they are gone, and I know you'll share them all with Birdy. Thinking of you,

AngMomof3 said...

Hey you, I'm so sorry. Been there, done that. A couple times.

Like you, I'll really miss my kids having the opportunity to get to know them the way I did.

Sad for you. Keep lovin' on Birdy.

Crafty Coug said...

Such a surreal feeling. My grandpa passed away last Thursday and I'm been going between sadness and confusion for a few days. It's been generally easier than I expected it would be, but I still notice an emptiness. I only have good memories as it sounds like you do, too. That is the best we can ask for. I cannot understand people who have grudges in their family. They must not even notice the emptiness.