I'm a girl, not a band!!!
An Anniversary of Sorts
One year ago today, my grandfather died. I was the only
one in the room with him. I was the one holding his hand.
In February of 2001, my grandmother died. She was filled
with cancerous tumors. When I say filled, I mean filled.
Her whole body. Fortunately, it was quick, and relatively
painless. But this left my grandfather.
My grandmother was the love of my grandfather's life. He
had made it PERFECTLY clear that he wanted to die first
because he couldn't live without her. Well, guess what.
Life doesn't work that way.
I did see my grandmother in the hospital in NC before she
died. I told her that I loved her and hugged her and
kissed her. I said my goodbyes. As did my sister and my
brother. Then, we left as I had to get to work, and they
had to go back to school. I drove them home. My
grandmother died 3 or so days later. I did not attend the
My grandfather went back to his empty, lonely house, and
sat there day after day, watching TV and drinking scotch.
He slept in the chair in front of the TV. He was never a
big eater before, and he ate very little then. One of the
skinniest people I've ever seen.
By the beginning of August of last year, he called 911 one
day because he felt short of breath. They took him to the
hospital, and the psychologist on call that night decided
that he was manic depressive and put him on very heavy
antipsychotic medication. Of course he's depressed, his
wife died morons!!!
He was put into a room overnight, and he didn't know where
he was. There is a law in NC that says a person cannot be
restrained against their will. They did not put up the
rails on the side of his bed. He got up at night and fell
and broke his hip. He was laying there when the nurse came
in on rounds to check on him at 6am. We don't know how
long he was lying there.
My father is a fisherman and travels the world to go
fishing in different places. We got a call from my
grandfather's sister-in-law and told us about all this
happening. We called my father, and he stopped what he was
doing and drove from Tampa, FL, to Southern Pines, NC
straight through. When he got to NC, my grandfather didn't
recognize him. He thought my dad was one of his brothers
who had died years and years ago. He told my father about
seeing people who weren't there, and then he'd talk to
them. My dad took him off the antipsychotic drugs. No more
brain fuzzies. My grandfather had many problems, but
dementia wasn't one of them.
It was decided that because he was so underweight, and
frail, that even attempting to fix his hip would probably
kill him. And he'd stay in a hospital until he died. We
decided that he was going to move in with us, into my
brothers room. My brother would move into my sister's room
who is away at school.
My mom, my cousin, and I drove up to NC to pack up as much of
the personal items we could from his house (it was a nice
retirement community of mobile homes, so it was tiny) so
we could sell it as is. We packed up vans and a pick up
and then my grandfather and drove to FL. He was in no
shape to fly. He was in pain the whole time.
We moved him into my brother's room, and got a hospial bed
from hospice, and oxygen tanks, and so on. He got weaker
and weaker. My mother bathed him, and helped him go to the
bathroom. I can't imagine how humiliating that would be. I
know that he begged both my parents to just kill him then.
All this was done in a week, tops. Getting him down here I
mean. When he was here, we made sure to never leave him
alone. Someone was always home. He got weaker and weaker.
Eventually, his eyes glazed over. It was awful. They were
open, but all crusty. He couldn't eat, or drink. We got
liquid morphine and would give it to him every 4 hours.
We'd take a tiny sponge and wet it and he could suck the
water out of that. It became a round the clock vigil. My
dad, mom, and I would always be there with him. We
promised he wouldn't die alone.
He stayed that way for about 2 weeks. And the 24 hour
surveillance wore away at my parents. Eventually, they
couldn't do it anymore. So I did. I slept (kinda) in a
chair next to his bed, his hand in mine always. It was so
fragile, and cold. Very cold. I kept trying to rub it to
get the circulation going, but his skin was so dry that I
was rubbing that off. So I just held it.
Around 4 in the afternoon on August 27, 2001, my
grandfather died. I was there. It was very quiet. No last
gasp, or moan, or spoken words, or light shining down.
Just no more breath. That was it. We called the funeral
home, and they came that day. It was done.
I was relieved. It was hard, and long, and painful. He at
least was at peace now.
But I wish I had gotten to know him better. And my
grandmother as well. Oh, I knew the basics, but very
little after that. They have always lived far away from
where I lived, so I never really got the chance to know
I wish that they could have been at my wedding.
I wish that they could have met my children.
I wish I knew more about them.