11.19.2006

Every Day Life

In and amongst the circus goings on lately, life has been happening around us.

Last week, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital. It was determined that she has congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and was bleeding internally. Over the last week, the doctors have discovered she has a cancerous mass in her colon and her kidneys are failing. She was already legally blind, and uses a hearing aid to hear. Her mind is as sharp as ever.

Hubby and I went to visit her in the hospital last Friday. The family is unsure if she will be moved to a continuing care facility or not. We are pretty sure, though, that she will not be going back to the home she shares with my grandfather.

When Hubby and I announced our engagement, we did it on Father's Day. I sat next to Papa, and asked him to give me away at our wedding. There was never any question in my mind of who should fulfill that role. When the day came, and we made that walk down the aisle, I remember him just taking slow, deep breaths as I patted his arm.

My grandfather has Dementia. This weekend, I learned the difference between Dementia and Alzheimers. Sometimes, my grandfather seems quite lucid. My Aunt had been caring for him at her house while my grandmother is in the hospital. She brings him to the hospital to visit his wife. He asks my grandmother when she is coming home from the hospital.

After they moved to Michigan for a bit, Papa used to fish with me off the dock of their home on the Kalamazoo River. He would bait the hook for me, then show me where to drop my line in the water. The two of us would just sit out there on the dock, waitin' for the fish to bite.

Friday when we arrived, my grandfather was casually perched against the window sill, with his hands braced on the guardrail of my grandmother's hospital bed. He was quiet, lost in his own thoughts, not really saying much. He doesn't say much these days, I guess.

In the evenings after supper, Papa and I sometimes went for walks down the quiet gravel road near their house. I don't remember all we used to talk about on those walks, but it was great just having him to myself for a bit.

I sidled up next to him, nudged him hello, and remained there. After a little while, he stood up slowly and leaned forward, grasping towards the foot of my grandmother's hospital bed. Hubby helped guide my grandfather's hand to the footboard as I stood next to him with my hand on his back. That's when something happened and my grandfather slowly began to collapse. I couldn't hold him up myself and Hubby jumped in and kept him from falling while my Aunt ran for help. I began to bring a chair over for Hubby to put him into, then went to look for the emergency button to press -- my mind not really processing what was happening.

I remember Papa took us ice skating a time or two. He was a good skater, and I'll never forget gliding along, concentrating on not falling, when Papa skated up behind me and whooshed me up into the air, startling a scream out of me.

Hubby got him into the chair, and within seconds the room was full of hospital staff. My grandfather was slowly laid out on the floor, his vitals checked, and his health assessed. He remained conscious, but not really there. After a minute or so, he appeared to "come back" (if that makes sense) and was able to answer the doctor's questions. Shortly after that, he was taken down to the emergency room to be monitored and tested.

The doctors admitted him to the hospital to monitor his heart for a couple of days. My grandfather was dehydrated, slightly anemic and fatigued. The doctors can find no other reason for his collapse Friday afternoon.

Not too long ago, whenever I saw Papa, he would give me a hug, then lean back and smile and say "It's always good to see you, Kel. You know we love you."

I haven't visited with my grandparents as much as I should have. Friday was the first time I truly realized the man I knew as my grandfather is lost. The man that remains is lost, too. He does not like hospitals, and I can only presume that with my grandmother in the hospital, and him being away from home, he is feeling confused... and I want to help him. I want to help him so very badly, and I don't know how.

Sunday, I learned that my grandmother is filling with fluid. The doctors will not be doing any further tests on her, and they are currently waiting for nature to take it's course. She is quite lucid and very aware of what is happening. She and her children have set things in motion to find a nursing home for my grandfather. Hospice has been contacted for the both of them.

Life has a way of going on and on... birthday parties are planned, holidays are celebrated, children are nursed through illness... and people we love are leaving us.

Like I told Punkin tonight, all we can do is make sure, every day, our friends and family know that we love them. We never know what life will bring us tomorrow.

21 comments:

Nilbo said...

There is nothing remarkable about dying. We'll all do it (well, except me, of course, but everybody else).

What's remarkable is how people choose to live their lives - how much love they bring to their relationships with family and friends, how much joy they create, how many good memories they leave behind.

It sounds to me like both of your grandparents have led remarkable lives. And yes, one of both may be "lost" ... but really, that's only to YOU.

God knows where they are. Draw comfort from that.

They will.

WILLIAM said...

Kel,
A lovely post about a difficult subject. I will keep you in my thoughts.

Sharkey said...

Oh Kelli, I'm so sorry. Thanks for writing this beautiful post--I know it couldn't have been easy.

As many of us prepare to be with our families this week, thanks for the reminder of what's important.

Sharkey said...

Oh Kelli, I'm so sorry. Thanks for writing this beautiful post--I know it couldn't have been easy.

As many of us prepare to be with our families this week, thanks for the reminder of what's important.

LadyBug said...

Oh, honey...

I'm just...I'm all teary and sniffling, here. I'm so sorry you're having to watch the ones you love prepare to leave you. You and they and your family will be in my prayers, dear.

And, sweetie? Can I just say? This was SO very, very beautifully written. The way you interspersed your memories with the reality of the present...it's just lovely. Thank you, CK, for sharing this with us. God bless you and your family, my friend.

Kentucky Brat said...

Kelli, just to damn much at once. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Good to hear the littles are better, you didn't mention yourself... hope your feeling better too.

eclectic said...

Oh Kelli -- I had no idea. I'm blabbering on about football and playrooms...

It's so hard to let time take us into the future. The future is changed from the present, which is a good thing, but the changing is difficult. I love your papa and how you describe him! I'm sorry you're so soon going to have to say good-bye to your grandma.

This is perhaps the most beautiful, loving post ever. I admire you so much, and wish you even more strength and peace and love than usual.

Lushy said...

*hug*

Candace said...

Kelli, I'm so sorry you have to say good-bye when you're not ready. Hang on to those lovely memories, and tell the stories to your children.

*hugs*

Platypus said...

Kelli that was lovely and sad and sweet all at the same time and I don't have anything deep and meaningful to say other than to send my love and let you know I'm thinking of you. x

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Sheesh. But you're 'xactly right. Gotta remind 'em. Gotta remind yourself.

Brudder doug said...

Heather and I have been seeing our friends and relatives pass on for quite some time and have begun to realize that life is just that way.

Isn't easy, but it happens. Makes me remember the time you put together a book about our son. Healing takes a long time Sis.

Your entry is amazing to the max, beautifully written and tells a lot about you.

Momentarily_Distracted said...

(((hugs)))

eclectic said...

Thinking of you and your family tonight, Kelli. Sending love.

Vajana said...

that was so very beautifully written CK. Our grandparents are such a huge part of our lives, and it's hard to feel so helpless when they become so vulnerable.

Lots of hugs and thoughts to you.

Amy said...

Wow did this catch my heart. Thinking of you, CK. And of your family.

Circus Kelli said...

Nilbo - Thank you.

Wiliam - Thank you.

Sharkey - You didn't need reminding, darlin.

LadyBug - God bless you and your family, too. Hang in there, darlin.

Kentucky Brat - I'm feeling better, though the cough lingers on. Thank you.

Eclectic - Thank you, E. Love you.

Lushy - Thanks, I needed that.

Candace - Thank you, I will.

Platypus - Thank you, love.

Bloggy - Yep.

Doug - Thanks, Brudder. I know you've had your share of loss as well. Love you.

MomentDis - Thank you.

Vajana - Thanks, darlin.

Amy - Thanks, Amy.

Chocolate K said...

let me know if theres ANYTHING I can do for any of you!!! And remember that we love you guys and are ALWAYS in our prayers!!!

Lynn said...

Oh, Kelli! I'm so sorry for what you are going through. Honey, you know how to get me if there's anything I can do. I wish I could help by taking the pain away, but I know it doesn't work that way. Hugs to you, honey, lots and lots of great big bear hugs. We are all here for you. We will gather around and really listen to you, just like what you see here now. You are well loved, Kelli. We're here. Sometimes that helps...

Circus Kelli said...

ChocoK - Thanks, I appreciate that.

Lynn - That means a lot to me. Thank you.

Annejelynn said...

love vibes to and yours, comin'atcha from Las Vegas

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