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.
You favorite oldest grandson