Thursday, February 25, 2010
Dear Diary, they're together again
I knew my grandfather was going to die, it was inevitable.
Still, the last few days, I've felt like such a coward because I couldn't bring myself to go back to the hospice. Seeing him clinging to life and not being able to talk was heartbreaking. What was worse, was when he would grasp for my hand, squeeze it and look at me while he cried. He was so scared of dying and I hated seeing him like that.
So I came home on Monday after spending the night at the hospice. I stayed home all day Tuesday. And finally, after berating myself, I went to see him yesterday morning. He knew I was there because as soon as I walked in and cheerfully said, "Hi granpa!" he looked at me and winked. He held my hand for a bit and I talked about nothing significant.
About an hour later, I left. I believed I would get a phone call letting me know that he passed but, like every other night since he was admitted to the hospice, I didn't get that call.
So, this morning, I had my coffee, put on some makeup and took Lola with me to the hospice. I figured she could wait in the sunroom and play while I talked to my grandfather.
When I got to his room, he was staring at the ceiling. I cheerfully said, "Hi granpa! It's me!! Tamara!" But there was no reaction. I waited to see if he was breathing and sure enough, there was a faint breath.
I said, "Lola's here today but she's playing outside of your room."
It was so quiet. I listened again and watched to see if he would take a breath.
"Hey, granpa, Team Canada won last night!!"
He just stared at the ceiling and I waited for him to take a breath.
"Wait right here, granpa, I'm going to find your nurse."
Wait right here, yes, I am a dumbass.
The first nurse I saw was filling out charts. When I asked if she was my grandfather's nurse she said no and to ask at the desk. Honestly I wasn't sure what I was going to ask but I knew that I needed to talk to someone.
The only nurse at the desk wasn't my grandfather's nurse but she asked what was wrong and I told her that my grandfather's breathing was so quiet and that he was so different from yesterday.
She came to the room with me and watched my grandfather for a minute.
"He's taking his last breaths," she said. I looked at her.
"So that's it?" I asked. "It's a matter of hours now?"
She looked at me with compassion and said, "No. Sooner."
My grandfather closed his mouth and then gasped.
The nurse, Wilma, came around to where I was sitting and rubbed my back. "That may have been his last breath," she said.
I took my grandfather's hand and said, "I'm here, granpa. You're not alone."
And then he took another breath. It was quiet again and I wondered if that was it. But he took another one.
"I have to call my husband," I told Wilma.
When Ron picked up the phone at his office, I couldn't even talk. I just cried. He asked if my grandfather had passed.
"No, he's taking his last breaths. I need you to come here and get Lola."
I went back into the room and sat with my grandfather. He took another breath. Then another. In spite of myself, I chuckled and said, "Fuck, you're stubborn." Wilma smiled and said she had to go and get a stethoscope.
I watched as my granpa took another breath. He quietly took another breath. Then another.
I watched to see if he would take another one. But he didn't.
Wilma came back and asked if he had taken another breath.
She listened for a heart beat and, for one brief moment I wanted this to all be a bad dream, but there was nothing, and it wasn't.
"Dammit, grandpa I wore makeup today!" I said, as my tears and mascara made me look like a chubby Marilyn Manson.
I held his hand for a minute longer but I couldn't sit there with his body.
I went to the sunroom where Lauryn was playing and held her.
A few minutes later, Ron walked in and held me tightly.
A part of me is relieved that he's not suffering any longer but the selfish part of me wants my grandfather back. But at least he died knowing Team Canada was kickin' ass at the Olympics.
I believe my grandfather waited for me to come back to the hospice today so he wouldn't die alone. My grandfather and I were always close, ever since I was born. In fact, the old boy named me. Yup, my grandfather has always been there for me and, when he needed it the most, I was there for him.
My grandparents are together again and I take comfort in knowing that they are reunited.
Wherever he is, he's probably having a drink and would be telling me to quit crying and to have a drink with him. So, grandpa, cheers! I love you, Stinker! Give my grandma a big hug for me.
P.S. I still hate the Calgary Flames.