Friday, March 15, 2013
On March 5 my dear Grandpa left us. He had been feeling generally unwell for a few months but declined very suddenly in the last 2 weeks of his life. He was admitted to the hospital that I work in and I carried out the role of his health care proxy that he had requested of me about 6 years ago. It was an honor to do that for him. I spoke to doctors and nurses and made decisions on his behalf. It was a pretty easy assignment in that all 5 of his kids knew his wishes and were on the same page as far as goals of care went.
Not once was there an argument between the kids. It was beautiful to see them surround their Dad's hospital bed and love and support each other. Little expressions of affection flowed openly between them. Daily visits, staying the night, bringing food and coffee, holding hands and many other demonstrations of love. Grandma slipped her hand into Grandpa's so that it appeared he was holding her hand in his last hours. Music, laughter, conversations surrounded my Grandpa as he slipped away. A never-ending family gathering in his honor.
As Grandpa's breathing became more labored by the day and then the hour, family members ranging from siblings to grandkids dropped in to say goodbye. Until the day before he left he had moments of alertness, recognizing and making eye contact with all who came. Although unable to speak he would pucker his lips for a kiss and try to say "I love you" one last time. Those are the last words I got from my Grandfather. He loved me.
Words I had heard all my life. No matter the circumstance. No matter the decisions I was making. No matter what. Grandpa loved me. I never once escaped from him without a hug and a kiss. I mattered to him. And so did everyone else. Grandpa was always genuinely happy to see me and anyone I brought with me. He always said "welcome here" when I came over and that welcome carried to anyone I was with. Never a judgement or exclusion.
I never knew him in his working days but I have heard stories of his incredible work ethic, patience, and integrity. I believe every word of it. That's how he lived his life. He knew Who he served and did so with unwavering resolve. He loved to debate ethics and politics and thought deeply about all sorts of matters.
He loved his wife beyond compare. Sometimes I feel sorry for my Husband, having such a model for me to base my expectations on! He was gentle and tender. He told her he loved her every day. Always dropped her off before parking the car and always picked her up. Never did I hear an unkind word. He spoiled her with affection and did chores around the house. Many times I witnessed him look at her completely smitten. A woman should be so lucky.
I got to know my Grandpa. I got to give back to him a little before he died. Just a little bit. For a man who gave me so much. A grand-daughter should be so lucky.
I love you Grandpa. You are missed.