Monday, February 8, 2010

and a peanut butter milkshake to go................

Saturday was the last day I was ever going to see my grandpa. He died that morning at 10:30.

Unfortunately I was not in time to see him before he passed. I shouldn't have taken time for granted.

I guess the begining of the end really started on Christmas day 2009. My grandpa fell at our condo on the way to our place. He went to the hospital about 2 hours later. No head trauma and nothing broken although he didn't remember anything about that morning. After a week in the hospital and another week in a live in rehab facility he was back home. A little tattered but still here. Getting around now with a walker and hooked up to oxygen at a rate of 2 litres.

Well after being home for two weeks he fell again. This time in his bathroom. He didn't set the brake on his walker. One of the aid car drivers remembered him and asked him if he remembered seeing him Christmas day. When asked how he felt compared to Christmas day, my grandpa replied: "a lot better".

It was serious this time. A femoral break at the head of the ball joint. This was going to require surgery.

Well that was delayed for about 5 days. The hospital felt that he was not well enough to safely do the surgery. The combination of his erratic pulse and the pnuemonia was making the situation bad to deal with.

The pnuemonia cleared up and a readjustment of his meds made the surgery possible a few days later. Hourly updates from the mom-unit brought some reassurances that day.

It was afterward where things started to drastically change. He never did fully wake up. He wasn't able to speak and his breathing was getting more shallow. He had been put on oxygen only a few weeks earlier after his first fall.

I really should have gone to the hospital this past week. I'm just not good in places like that. Never have been. I don't like doctours and I don't like hospitals. I don't visit people in hospitals and the one time I was in one for a surgery I was so high on meds that I don't know if people came to see me or not. Not sure I want to have people visit me in one. Obviously if you're visiting someone in a hospital they are not having one of lifes finest moments.

So in a period of less than 5 days he went from surgery ward to being placed in hospice. He was not able to physically eat becuase of a herniated esophagus. The hospital was not able to get a feeding tube into him becuase of this condition as well. His only nourishment at this point was from an IV drip. That was not proving to be very promising. He was given between 7-10 days. No one figured it would be far less than that.

Saturday February 6th:

I woke the sound of Scotland The Brave. It's the "generic" ringtone I installed on my blackberry. As a piper and someone who is part Scot it's a must. So anyway for the next hour and a half I'm getting call after call from the mother unit with upates on my grandfather. The Paisley and I have some brief discussions about getting to the hospital sooner than later in the day. Unfortunately sooner came quicker for grandpa than later. At 10:30 I got my last phone update on my grandpa. It was over. He was gone.

This is my last grandpa. I lost my first one in 1990 (on my 20th birthday) and the other in 1996. The math is wrong here if you're paying attention. Yes three grandfathers. This one is my step dad's father. He was the one that I just happen to be closest with becuase we lived so close to him. My other two grandfathers were on the other side of the state and I really only saw them during summers.

I had done things with this one that I had never done with the others: build things in the garage, fix cars and even go to work with him before he was retired. When I was 5 he took me for a ride on his motourcycle. First time I had every been on one. His driving scared me. I think I actually pissed myself and the bike. His driving scared a lot of people. It's one of my best memories of him.

It was very much like a scene from a scary movie walking into his hospital room yesterday morning. He was pale and jaundiced. He had died with his head back and his mouth open. It was as if he was in a permanent position for snoring. He did that very well and very loud. He and grandma had not shared a bedroom in the 35 years he had been grandpa becuase of  his snoring and probably had not shared a room for an even longer time prior to me being in their lives.

Maybe his head was back and his mouth was open for his soul to escape. Maybe I watch too much Dead Like Me.

It was creepy too. Eyes closed, head back and mouth open makes for a situation in scary movies. It gave me the willys. I felt myself hesitating to enter the room any further upon seeing him this way. My son was the most upset by this of my two kids. Grandma is a rock. She has her religion as her foundation. She was upset and crying, but dignified. As my wife stated: I've never seen grandma lose her composure."

My mom was acutally crying.

I am concerned about my step dad. Like me, he's the only kid. Unlike me, he's never had to deal with anyone close to him dying. This was his dad.

If I don't think about it then it doesn't bother me. I wasn't this upset with my other two grandpa's. Why? Was it becuase they lived so far away and the social and generational interaction was limited compared to this one? I can only suspect that as the cause. When I think about it, I become and emotional rollercoaster. I'm actually choosing to block this right now. I'm sure there will be plenty of emotional breakdowns later this week.

Grandma will have a service for him at their church later this week. There will be a final one at the military cemetary about 20 miles away. As a retiree of the United States Airforce and someone who served during two wars he qualifies for a military burial.

Grandma told us all in the room that morning that all grandpa wanted when he was lucid and awake was a peanut butter milkshake. It was his favourite.

I waited for everyone to leave the room. I closed the door a bit and approached the bed where my grandpa lay. I said my final goodbye to him as I grabbed his hand and squeezed it one last time. He wouldn't be squeezing back this time.