My Children Confront Death Again

 

Field of Dreams

Dear children,

It is almost midnight on Tuesday night and I am back at the computer lost in the memories of my past. I went to visit your great-grandfather today and we had a very serious talk about death. He looked me in the eye and told me that he knows that he is dying and I told  him that I had heard the rumor. I asked if him if he is afraid or concerned about it and he said no. He is not afraid and he is ready to go.

Tomorrow I’ll take you over to his home to see him so that you can say goodbye. He has been receiving palliative care and tomorrow that changes to hospice care. What that means is that they are going to do some things to make him more comfortable and to prepare for him to leave us. That is a softer way of saying that they are helping him get ready to die.

I don’t know all of the details. I don’t know if they are going to give him a morphine drip or medicate him in a way that will prevent him from communicating with us. But that is what I have seen happen in the past so that is why I want to get there early enough to see him while he is still cognizant of where he is and who is around him.

He told me today that he loves you very much and asked me to tell you stories about him. He made sure to tell me to make sure that I include grandma in those stories. One day when you are much older I will tell you that I think he is dying of a broken heart. It is 18 months since grandma died and he misses her terribly. No one is surprised by this. They were married for 76 years and were friends for close to ten prior to that

My wish for you is that you should know the sort of love that they had for each other and that it be for even longer.

+++++

You may not know this, but most grownups will tell you that you never really out grow your parents. That doesn’t mean that you will always need their help but chances are you will feel better knowing that they are there…just in case. Today I sat next to grandma and I watched her closely. She is preparing to say goodbye to her daddy and I can see that she is sad. She understands why this is happening and knows that it is part of life, but she is going to miss him.

There were a few times when she held my hand and asked me when her little boy got to be so big. She doesn’t talk like that normally. Ok, when your aunt turned 40 this year she told me that she is not old enough to have a 40 year-old child, let alone several. I of course took the opportunity to tell your aunt that mom thinks she is really old. Sorry, you may call me dad but in the big brother guidelines it states that we are required to tease our little sisters for life.

+++++

It feels very strange to me to think that in a short time all of my grandparents will be gone. They have been a huge part of my life. I can’t think of a time where they weren’t around and now I am on the verge of having…none.  One of the things that makes me happy is to see that you are developing the same sort of relationships with your grandparents that I had with mine.

And at the same time I feel sad knowing that none of them will be at your aunt’s wedding. Fact is that no one from that generation will be there. It is less than two weeks now and the docs say that they don’t expect grandpa to live that long. Even if he fools them he won’t be in a position to be there.

One more piece of my childhood is disappearing. I suppose that sounds selfish, but grandpa would appreciate it. Tomorrow you’ll ask me what comes after we die and I expect that you’ll want to know if I think that grandma is waiting to see him. I’ll probably answer by asking what you think.

Me, I am torn. This is all bittersweet for me. I don’t want to let go of my grandpa. It makes me think this:

I guess that it stems in part from some of the last memories I have of grandpa and grandma. They used to sit next to each other and hold hands. Sometimes when grandma would get up and walk away grandpa would tell me that she had a great ass for a senior citizen and then he would laugh. And sometimes that laugh would fade and he’d tell me about how he didn’t see an old woman. He’d tell me that he still saw the girl that he fell in love with. He’d tell me about how she used to jump on his back and he would run and the two of them would laugh.

He’d tell me lots of stories. During the last few years of grandma’s life he would tell me how frustrated he was that he couldn’t pick her up anymore and how it killed him not to be able to care for her the way that he used to.

+++++

I don’t know what happens after we die. I know that 3 out of 4 of my grandparents lived well into their nineties so I hope not to learn for a long time. I know that though it pains me to have to say goodbye to grandpa I am happy that he is at peace with it. I really do hope that he finds grandma waiting for him. He told me that he talks to her everyday and that when he goes to sleep he always tells her that he loves her.

Before I wrap this up I want to share a few more things with you. I am not afraid of death. I don’t want it to come for a long time because I have too much to do and I am determined to see who you become when you grow up. I am determined to help show you that life is meant to be lived and that our job is to suck the marrow out of life.

And if you want to know why I repeat myself here you can attribute it to this:

If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-a tremendous whack.
– Winston Churchill

I love you,

Dad

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