March 7, 2013

I Love Her.

A man who once was an Engineer is dying. He’s lived a long life, and might not reach his 95th birthday in a couple weeks. He survived the death of two wives, built the house he lives in, and has been one of the most capable individuals this planet has known. He’s my Grandpa.

He’s finally wearing out, and getting ready to take the next step in his existence.

A couple years ago my little sister moved in with him. She works full time, so she isn’t his care-er, but really, she is. She is the regular in his life. The one who has found him in a terrible state in the morning a few times. The one who knows exactly how he’s doing, how to do everything right, and the one who might just love him the most.
Caring for a person when you are a tender-heart, makes you love that person more. She has been the one to see and experience his rapid decline… while falling further in love.

Yesterday took a gruesome turn when he started coughing up blood. Normally he gets out of bed every day with help, to go sit in a chair. This day, not only could he not get out of bed, this man who never feels pain, and never complains, actually said in the throws of blood “I’m going to die”.

We arrived, he was comfortable. With only one eye and minimal hearing, my little sister knows where to position herself and how loud to speak so he can see and hear her.
My heart wanted to take a picture as she leaned down to his face and put her nose right in front of his so he could come forward and rub noses with her. Their regular way of kissing. (A nose with dried blood just inside it from his earlier horrific coughing spells.) Despite having so very little memory left, he knows her, he loves her, and he’s used to her.

Not having eaten anything this day, and up until this point not wanting to; my little sister went and got some applesauce. My older sister fed him. I sat as close as I could, stroking his hand and his head; smiling as big as I could so that his mind registered “happy”.
His memory is so short that a few times he looked around like he was just then seeing there were 5 of us in the room. My two sisters, my mother, and aunt.

What a dichotomy, wanting someone to pass away while they have loved ones surrounding them, vs wanting them to pass away in their sleep so the loved ones don’t have to have to witness it.  Only because some memories can be overly vivid for the rest of your life.
When Grandpa first took a bad turn, I went to see him, shouted my hello’s, and feigned “great” to see you. Nobody wants to see a sad face when a loved one looks at them.

Before I left, I crouched down and stroked his head. And in doing so, something happened to me… I saw his eyes close, the way a pet would at your loving touch, and he said “Thank you” as I stroked.

I realized in that moment, we don’t get too old to want a loving touch, to have your forehead stroked or kissed, or to feel someone’s loving hand on your skin.

Little sister is this person for him on a regular basis, and this warms my heart no end.

I think it’s possible some people don’t get to see what tender love looks like, the tiny beautiful things in life= the giant way a little love affects us. I say this about my grandpa receiving, and the rest of us giving.

Why did I feel the visit of us 5 girls as a beautiful thing and not a bad thing despite his skeletal frame, his bloody nose, and his liquid sounding cough?
I’ll tell you why --
Because the people in that room, especially the youngest one, love that man. They and want him to be comfortable. Giving him love through touch, smiles, and presence is what it’s about at this point. I hope his life is done, and suffering isn’t how his journey ends.

But if it’s not quite over, he has my little sister around, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have by my side if I were dying. She’s beautiful to the core.

Photos are all courtesy of my little sisters instagram where she regularly shares how much she loves him with her friends. 
Today when I asked for an update, she sent this:
"A little worse, hardly responds to me and just staring into thin air. He has been in a little pain so I gave him a tiny bit of pain meds and it's seemed to calm him down."

March 31, 1918 - March 10, 2013

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