Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saying goodbye to my grandpa

Today I went to say goodbye to my grandpa.

It's all going much faster than anyone anticipated. He went home last week for hospice care, and I've talked to my mom every day since then. At first it was "He looks good, he's sitting up in bed eating egg salad." Then, early this week, she said "Dad had a rough night because he saw frustration in grandpa's eyes." A few days ago, it was "He's starting to sound a little confused." Sometime in the past 48 hours everyone came to understand that we were coming to say goodbye, not to visit.

He was nowhere near sitting up in bed eating egg salad. He has no mobility other than some jerky arm movements and a little bit of neck control. He speaks clearly, but so softly that it's very difficult to make out what he says. Last night, he had to repeat himself three times, until he finally said "Do I have a speech impediment?" Haha. Oh, grandpa.

He has started getting much less coherent. He would kind of fall asleep and then wake up. I'd smile at him and he'd say "Did you bring the baby?" even though he'd already seen the baby. Each time I said "Yes, we did!" and brought Alex in. He liked to touch Alex's soft skin and smile at him. Once he said "It was a long time coming", which I think was a reference to our infertility. These were good, clear moments.

At other moments he'd just look at my dad and say "Is the door locked?" "Yes, dad, the door's locked, don't worry about it." Or, he'd look around the room and say "We all have a lot of work to do." He kept acting like he was taking pills, even though the need for pills passed long ago. He'd look in his blankets for pills he thought he had dropped.

I liked to just sit there and hold his hand. Once, he woke up and looked at me, and I said "Is it okay if I hold your hand?" And he squeezed my hand in his. That meant a lot to me because he has so little strength.

When it was time for us to leave, I went in to say one final goodbye. I said "grandpa, I just wanted to say goodbye." I stroked his face and his arm. He said goodbye to me and kind of started mumbling. I said "You know that I love you, right?" and he looked at me with vacant eyes and asked "Who are you?"

My heart stopped. I said "I'm Lulu. I'm your granddaughter." The focus came back in his eyes and he said something about being embarrassed. I said don't worry grandpa, don't be embarrassed, just rest. He mumbled a little bit more. I told him again that I loved him and asked if I could give him a hug. He brought his arms around me which, again, I knew took a lot of strength.

I think I jogged his memory because when my husband took Alex in to say goodbye, he called my husband by name and told him to take care of both of us.

The last time I had seen my grandpa was on the fourth of July. He wasn't feeling well, but was happy. He held Alex and fed him a bottle. In just a few weeks he's now bedridden, practically immobile, breathing with a lot of effort -- dying. On the fourth of July he was okay. Now, he's dying.

Last October, just 10 short months ago, we went to tell him and my grandma that we were pregnant. My grandpa got tears in his eyes and told me how happy he was. He wrote an advice card for me for my baby shower in March. Now, he wouldn't even be able to hold a pen.

I think some of my family members think I misunderstood, that he wasn't bad enough to forget who I was. But I heard him clearly, and saw the way he felt foolish afterwards. But I also felt his arms around me when I left and in that moment, I knew he knew who I was.


TurtleMama said...

So sorry to hear about your grandfather - and that he is going down so quickly. Must be so hard to witness. Will be thinking of you and Alex. I'm glad he got to welcome Alex into this world.

Alex said...

I'm so sorry about the loss of your grandfather. What a lovely thing though that you were able to say goodbye to him before he left. Thinking of you and your family.