Because that is the least I can do

I sat there, watching as my mother spoon fed him strawberry ice cream, wondering how aware of his surroundings he actually was.

My grandfather had fallen a little over a week earlier and sustained a nasty black eye, a cut to his forehead and a broken right hip. He'd spoken very little since the accident, and, even before that, he'd been displaying signs of confusion.

With "swallowing issues" to take into consideration, even my grandfather's water required a thickening agent. I looked over to the tray, where a cup of gelatinous water sat, and couldn't really blame him for not wanting to eat or drink.

I'd suggested bringing ice cream a few days earlier when I'd noticed his nurses had unsuccessfully attempt to sneak his pills into his vanilla pudding. "If we get a chocolate based ice cream, he may not notice the bitterness of the pills as much," I told my mom. A trip to the grocery store found Hagen Daz on sale. Two dollars off - surely an omen.

As my grandfather began to doze, we decided it was time to take leave. I bent down, kissed his forehead and told him I would be back again soon. "Try to stay out of trouble, Old Man," I said. He smiled at me in return. "I am serious," I warned, "I won't bring you any more ice cream if I hear you've been bad."

As I turned to leave, one of the other men sharing the room called me over. "Today is the happiest he's been since he came here," he told me. "I think it's because of you."

"Well," I paused, "I told him not to make a scene. I am now trusting you to ensure he doesn't get into any mischief. If he gets up to no good, I am holding you responsible." And I winked, because I am always looking for an opportunity to wink at someone.

It is hard watching someone you love die. I wasn't sure, at first, if I'd be a strong enough person to do it. I have seen it before. I used to work at a hospice. I was surrounded by death every day, or at least, statistically speaking, once every 14 days. But it is different when it is your family. It is different when you are the one sitting at their bedside.

I am not sure how much longer my grandfather has. I am not sure if his heart will suddenly stop in the middle of the night or if we will have a little bit of warning before the time comes. What I do know is that, if he needs me, I will be there to hold his hand as he takes his final breath; to stroke his head and tell him that everything will be alright. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Poignant and wonderful as always. Thanks for sharing.