11.14.2008

Grandpa

On Monday, Oct. 13th my mom called me and told me that my sweet grandpa had been told that he was dying of kidney failure and had about 4 months to live. Because of his age (he would be 86 in early November) they chose not to do anything because it would really just be prolonging things and would be very uncomfortable. My grandpa lived a very long and full life, was very healthy right to the end, and had been saying for years that he was ready to go when it was time. We all knew his decision was a good one and agreed with him. That doesn't seem to make the fact that he would be leaving us any easier. When I first heard I cried almost non-stop for days. Even though I was totally fine with the fact that I knew this was how he wanted it to be it was still so hard to face the fact that he would soon not be with us. I was also very worried about my grammy and what the next few months would be like for grandpa. I can not imagine knowing that you are going to die soon. Plans were made... he was taken off all medications except for the ones to help him be comfortable, hospice was called and started coming to the house to help care for him and clean, and all the family was called. I checked in with my mom multiple times each day and she kept telling me that he was going fast. It was like once he had "permission" to die he started going much faster than everyone anticipated. By Tuesday night they were saying it could be as fast as 24-48 hours. Most of the family made plans to get there as quickly as possible. I was able to make arrangements to fly down on Wednesday. I took Coleman with me and am so grateful to everyone who helped with my other kids (Chris was out of town, but hurried home to get the kids when I had to leave. I literally left them with family and no suitcases or anything without even knowing when Chris would be able to get back in town) By the time I got there Wednesday evening they had set a spare room up like a hospital room. It was crazy... from the time he got the news on Friday, when he actually walked in and out of the doctors office, to Wednesday night he had gotten to the point where he wouldn't get out of bed again and was very weak. I feel like I'm rambling. It was truly an amazing experience to be there and help take care of my grandpa. I had so many experiences that week that are a little too personal share here so I won't, but I am so grateful I was able to be a part of this time of his life and say good bye to him... and to have him meet Coleman. We also had a lot of fun, believe it or not. There were so many people there and it was a really joyous time together as a family. Grandpa has lived in the same place forever and the endless parade of friends was amazing to watch. I took a ton of pictures. Here are a few of my favorite.
This is Grandpa meeting Coleman for the first time. It was so sweet. Grandpa could barely talk but said "AAAW" when we showed him Coleman and held him up for him to see.
Grammy kissing Coleman... her newest great grandchild. I think it was actually good for everyone to have Coleman there... almost healing. To have this sweet new life there while we were helping prepare my grandpa to die sort of kept things in balance and reminded us all about the cycle of things.  
My aunt Melanie (she took care of us all and kept us well fed), Uncle Joel, Mom and Cassidy. We were getting ready to song hymns for grandpa. We stayed up really late every night and one of the things we loved to do was sit in his room and reminisce and sing.
Throughout the week grandpa would often ask to see the baby. It was really touching to me because he would ask at random times when Coleman wasn't even around. It meant a lot to me because he was fading so quickly and that was sort of a sign that he was still there mentally and aware of things. This is my mom and 3 of my cousins, Haylie, Brittany, and Cassidy.
Dallas Sophie, Brittany (with Cole) and Aunt Melanie.
My mom, Aunt Melanie and Uncles Dallas and Joel. Four of my grandpa's 5 children were there to help along with 5 grand daughters. A lot of other family and friends stopped by to visit and called to talk to grandpa throughout the week.
My beautiful grammy... she's a rock. She was my buddy all week. Coleman and I slept in her bed with her and it was so nice to wake up early in the morning... I would lay there nursing Coleman and she and I would talk for about an hour about everything... then go back to sleep. It was our little secret time and it meant so much to me to talk to her about grandpa and their life together.
Visiting with grandpa. It was nice to just sit in there with him as he slept. It was quiet and peaceful and the perfect opportunity to think about my life with him and what a great man he was. 
Trying to keep up on things... my uncles thought it was funny how I would balance Coleman on my knee while I caught up on my email and read a few blogs so they took this picture. They should see me type while I nurse!
I mentioned before how grandpa was always asking to see Coleman. We would lay him in the bed next to him and they would sit there together for a while. I loved this shot of Cole looking up at him. We would say that because Coleman was so fresh from God and grandpa was on his way home they were probably exchanging secrets and kind of passing on the way in and on the way out. 

It truly was a wonderful, emotional, fun, exhausting, fulfilling week. I will never forget the experiences, joy and love from this week. My uncles and my mom are my heros. I have a whole knew level of respect and love for my extended family. I so admire my grammy and her strength through this whole thing. I left on Monday, exactly one week after I first heard the news. He had deteriorated a lot just in the 5 days I was there. I said good bye to him that morning before I went to the airport. It was hard, but this is exactly how my grandpa wanted to go and I am happy for him. He was able to live a full, healthy life right up to the end. My mom said that by Monday night he was pretty much gone... no more communication. He hung on for a couple more days and died peacefully early in the morning on Thursday, October 23rd. From start to finish it was only 10 days. 

"Old soldiers never die, they just fade away..."

4 comments:

{sara} said...

That was such a sweet post & a nice tribute to your grandpa. I love that last picture of him with Coleman...I think I'd frame it!

Danielle said...

Wow, life is never boring is it? That is so woderful you were able to have that neat experience. Hope all is well.

eraxson said...

what tender memories you will have to look back on. We had many tender mercies surrounding my grandfathers passing and I am so grateful that we have those moments to look back on.
Hope your heart is healing.
I too thought the picture of Coleman and your grandpa was so sweet!

Brit said...

It was great spending time with you that week. It really was a wonderful experience to have so many of us there on his way out. I miss you guys already. =)