Letting Go

Dear Grandpa,

It is a quarter to five on a Friday afternoon and I have just finished speaking with my mom. She tells me that you are refusing to eat and that you won’t take your medication. She says that you say that you feel rotten and that all you want to do is sleep. Mom and I don’t mince words- we see you preparing yourself for whatever it is that comes after this place.

Your doctors say that there is no way to tell how long it will be before you decide to see what lies beyond door number one. It might be six months or it might be two weeks. Most of the time we wouldn’t think twice about the time frame. We all know that at 97 you are closer to the end than to the beginning. Those are your words, not ours and that is ok.

No one wants to see you go but we understand that it is going to happen. But the thing is that your granddaughter’s wedding is coming up in slightly more than two weeks and that presents an interesting dilemma for us. Do we push you to eat and take your medicine and see what happens.

Those aren’t heroic measures. They don’t conflict with your request for a DNR. There is no doubt that getting some food into you will help. There is no doubt that your meds will help ease your discomfort.

Your daughters have asked me to go talk to you. I am the oldest grandson and everyone knows that you treat me differently. Everyone knows that I can make requests that others can’t. If I ask you to eat you are more likely to do so than if your daughters do. We don’t have the parent/child dynamic- it is still that grandfather/grandson with the caveat that we have a friendship. You have told me your stories and I have told you many of mine. I have established my credentials with you and you listen.

I am torn about this. You have lost a step but for the most part you are all there. The problem is that you heart is broken and no one can fix that. It is 18 months since grandma died and we see how you miss her. I can’t imagine what it means to be married for 76 years or how big a hole her loss must have created for you.

But I do understand pieces of it. I know a little bit what it means to have loved and lost. I know a little bit about a lot of things, but you know this because we have talked about it.

So grandpa here is the conundrum I find before me. Is it fair for me to ask you to get back on your horse for one last ride. Is it fair for me to push a little bit and remind you that the wedding is so very close. I feel confident in saying that grandma would want you to go and that she would want your great grandchildren to get another chance to be with you. There probably won’t be another chance for the entire family to be together…this is it.

You probably won’t read this but in case you do I am going to answer my last question and say yes. Yes, I am going to come visit today. In a short while I will walk into your room and see if I can gently persuade you to eat and take your meds. When I close my eyes and think about what I think you would advise that is what I hear. If you fight me on it I am going to push a little bit. I will remind you that it is your chance to see us all together again.

I’ll tell you outright that your grandson is selfish enough to ask for more time with you and then we’ll see what happens.

When I leave I have to call my sisters and report. I have to tell the middle one whether she can wait to come in from out of town or if she needs to hop on a plane sooner.

See you soon.

Love,

You favorite oldest grandson

Comments

  1. cathy.reaves says

    My mother passed away a mere week after the entire family gathered for Christmas and New Years. I remember feeling so blessed that we all had one last great gathering and she could leave with that. I wish you luck and hope the same for you and yours.

  2. says

    @John Falchetto Hi John. That is the question we are wrestling with. Are we helping or hindering. Quality of life is important. I don’t mind being selfish if we can help him maintain that, but if we can’t… @Billy_Delaney
    Twitter:

  3. says

    Hi Jack,

    My thoughts are with you and your family. It’s tough choosing between helping the pain or just prolonging it. Making that judgement call sucks. As @Billy_Delaney says so well the quest for one more time is what life is all about.

    Celebrating life and a wedding is never a bad thing.

    Take care my Jack.

  4. Billy_Delaney says

    Hello JackB.

    The pull of life is stronger than the push of love, the heart breaks before the string of life does. I wish you well in your quest for one more time… Billy

  5. Leon says

    G’Day Jack,

    I just wanted you to know that our thoughts are with you. Just do what you believe is best. Take care not to compromise your standards whatever they are. And good luck. Whatever happens, I hope that the wedding is a memorable event

    Regards

    Leon

  6. says

    Hey,

    Probably one of the hardest things to do, my mom gets a lil stubborn in that area, but then my dad is there to coax her into it. Probably one of the things you as the eldest grandson could do is besides talking to him, give him reasons for taking it and why it is more important for him to be caring for HIMSELF and how that will be good for him irrespective of anything else happening around him.

    Also, a girl’s anger has no bounds when her wedding day is filled with hiccups! Warn him of that and he will popping those pills like never before!
    Twitter:

  7. says

    @NancyD68 Hi Nancy. If it weren’t just a couple of weeks away I would just shrug my shoulders and say let’s see how it goes.

    But this is close enough that I think it feels ok and I am confident that my grandmother would want him to go even though she can’t.

    No easy answers, but that is ok with me.
    Twitter:

  8. says

    @mizzmeggs I can’t imagine how hard that was. These are moments that test us in so many ways. I don’t think that there is a right answer- you just kind of do what feels right.
    Twitter:

  9. says

    Asking him is the right thing to do Jack. I know when my Mom died a huge part of Dad went into that grave after her. When Dad would act up about taking his meds. or overdoing his sleeping pills, I would remind him that he had his grandson to live for. My brother says all the time that having me and my son in the house gave him an extra two years.

    If the wedding is in two weeks, and he does not eat and passes, the girls would be heartbroken and a beautiful day would be bittersweet for them.

    Once the wedding is over, if he needs to go, let him leave. I don’t think one last favor in this case is too much to ask.

    Good luck

  10. mizzmeggs says

    I remember the day my mom, sister and I told my dad, “If you’re tired it’s okay to go, Daddy. We know how hard you’ve fought.” He was so exhausted he wanted to go. Cancer took him a couple of days later. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say to someone in my life. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

  11. AmandaMagee says

    Damn. Not easy times. Hoping those to be wed understand that either way, the day will be laced with magic. He may have reasons for wanting to go before. Peace be to you all.

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