Thursday, 2 February 2012

Would You Grant A Last Wish

I was so fortunate to have a close relationship to my grandparents on my mothers side. Blessed even. I've had this typed for a while but couldn't hit publish because it hurts...alot...still... nearly five years later.
My Grandfather was a larger than life man. Huge in frame and personality. He and my Grandmother lived life to the fullest.  It was always cocktail hour and the door was always open, your stomach was always full and you laughed till you cried ALWAYS.
When he was in his sixties he changed...forever. Pop was diagnosed with diabetes. It was crushing, shocking, so many emotions. It was also the eighties, diabetes was unknown to a lot of people. Facts were not widely available. He was angry, very angry and very bitter. Literally overnight all the favourite things in life were gone. No more gigantic dinners and desserts that would feed three, no more drinking, he was bitter. Within the first year he dropped close to 50kg. He was bitter.
My Mum and I went to the library to research information to try and help him. As I said information and awareness were not prominent in the eighties of this condition. The nineties roll around the gorgeous internet changed all of that. I had cookbooks sent from the US, special sweets sent from the UK.. He was bitter.
Over the next five years he got worse, a lot worse, he had numerous strokes. Each one taking a little more of him away each time. He could no longer do things for himself and relied on my grandmother for everything.
When I got my licence I drove the two hour drive there and back, once a week. To take them to the doctors, do their grocery shopping, washing whatever was there to be done. You see at first everyone used to drive down to see him, to give Nan a break, but then his bitterness and hatred of the world took it's toll on them. They stayed away, when they did call or visit he would berate them with "you never call", answer "I called you last week Dad/Pop" , he "oh you call that a phone call" and so on. He had three sons, one daughter, eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Two would visit consistently, my mother and I.
With each stroke came the inevitable phone call, come quickly they don't think he will make it through. He always did. I was always raked with what if he doesn't and I never say goodbye? I always drove the two hours to be told he'll be okay and to hug my Nan so tight. As the years went on, he got worse and Nan got older. She had made a promise to him though that she would never put him in a home, he would always be looked after.
We were down staying for the weekend for my daughters 3rd birthday. Nan was tired, so so tired. She was snippy, she was never snippy. We drove home on the Sunday with nagging cloud around us. On the Wednesday I called to say Hi. Nan was sick, she had a cold and didn't feel well. I told her to go to the doctor but she didn't want to leave him for that long, so I said I'll leave work early on Friday and come down and take you. Okay she says. My Nan had passed away by Friday morning. It turns out she actually had Pneumonia, which took it's toll and caused a massive stroke and she was gone. For me, the world changed forever that day. I idolized her. She was so fun, warm, kind, the best. She was gone. It was such a shock to everyone that no one thought of the consequences. Drowning in their grief, getting through as best we could, hanging on by mere thread. Reality hit within days. Who was going to care for Pop? The boys tried to convince him that they would find a nice home but it devastated him and caused him such distress. He couldn't cope, he was grieving his wife of 63 years. So with much to and fro, it was decided he would live downstairs at my Uncle's but someone else had to come look after him. So my Mum and I took it in turns. My Mum doesn't drive so I drive her everywhere anyways. I would work nights, come home get little one ready for kindy, go over and look after Pop till Mum came in the afternoon with Dad, go pick little one up from kindy, sleep for a few hours, work, kindy, Pop, kindy and so the cycle would go.
He got progressively worse, till he needed a machine to breathe. Tuesday morning, I call the ambulance, a lovely lady and her partner arrive. She holds my hand "Love, there is nothing more we can do for him, we can take him to the hospital but he won't come home". I call everyone immediately, what do I do? I asked Pop "Do you want to stay here", "Please" is all he said. I remember thinking at the time, I've never heard Pop say please, ever. The lovely lady left a few hours later and it was just he and I for awhile whilst everyone else finished their days and made their way over. He looked at me and said "This is it huh", I said "Yep"
He asked for one last thing......a cigarette. I said "Are you mental?" He laughed and laughed. So I did I lit that cigarette and he sucked back on it, coughing the remaining lung up I swear but he was happy so very very happy. He probably had two puffs and that was it. I put it out and we sat in silence for the rest of the afternoon. Then it was a blur of people. By 9am the next morning, he was gone. Gone to his beautiful wife waiting for him in paradise.
What made me write about this? My baby is the spitting image of him, he had a habit of rubbing his hands together, even when asleep and she does the exact same thing. She is five months old today and I love to believe that apart of him was born within her and so they live on.
What would you do? Would you grant someone their last wish even though it was probably medically incorrect and morally iffy.? I did and would again.....in a heartbeat.

5 comments :

  1. Mummy Issues Part 23 February 2012 at 23:11

    Wow Beth, what an amazing, sad, beautiful story. I have worked in aged care and I just knew as I started reading that something was going to happen to your Grandmother. The huge task of caring for her husband took it's toll. What a great family you must have to have cared for him - he sounds like he was good company. I would hand over pretty much anything at that point. You totally did the right thing. xx

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  2. Oh babe, tears are rolling down my cheeks as I write this comment. I can feel in your words just how much you loved them.
    I don't think what you did was wrong. We were in a very similar situation with my hubby's father. He lost both his legs to a staph infection and ended up in a nursing home for 18 months where he was absolutely miserable and shrunk away to nothing. He was always such a grump but we couldn't leave him there so he came to live with us. In the nursing home he couldn't indulge in his two great loves, his booze and his smokes. When he came to us he just spent all day sitting out on the deck in is wheelchair smoking and drinking. He died 9 months later and he basically drank himself and smoked himself to the end, but he was happy, kind of... Well happier than he was in that nursing home. I often felt guilty that I didn't confiscate his booze and smokes but they were all he wanted.
    BIG HUG to you Hun, you were a wonderful grand daughter xxx

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  3. Thank you so much for reading through it all Lee, I appreciate it hun xx 

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  4. Thank you hun xxx I know it was longer than Gone with the Wind , I really appreciate you taking the time xxx Such a hard time, my biggest hugs as parent would have been harder xxx 

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  5. If I knew for 100% certain that they were going to die very soon, I definitely would. 

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