What do they know?
My heart is overwhelmed with emotions today. Facebook reminded me that exactly one year ago my grandpa passed away.
My grandpa died of Alzheimers disease. It's a really hideous disease.
I wont go on about every single detail of his passing but I will share with you something I experienced during and after.
I had just gotten off work when I was told he only had a few days left to live. It was a long time coming, however, it felt so sudden. My family and I immediately put our lives on hold and fastened our seat-belts for a long road trip to California.
When we arrived, I promptly searched for grandpa. My eyes met his. He looked frail, malnourished, and withered, although, I recognized him. I found him curled up in a hospital bed in his living room where his recliner usually sits. I gently touched his hand and whispered "I love you grandpa" in hopes that somehow wherever life takes us when we pass, he will always remember how much he is loved. I saw that he recognized me but he didn’t remember my name. That was hard. But he still knew that I was someone, someone special to him.
There was a good handful of us family members that spent every waking and sleeping hours supporting each other and caring for grandpa. During these days, we reminisced on old memories, laughed, cried, sang, prayed and most importantly, put aside anything that may have caused conflict in the past.
This was the first death in my family and I felt afraid for how his death would effect everyone. A death in the family is scary and hard to imagine how life can go on without this special person that meant so much to so many people.
After he passed, I drove 11.5 hours home by myself. I spent lots of time collecting thoughts on how I wish I had more time with grandpa and if I had the choice, I would live close to all of my family. One thing I am certain is the love we had for grandpa brought us together and shed light on what family really means.
As life goes on, I’ve gone back and forth with feelings of being ok and then feeling sadness and grief over grandpa. I don’t think anyone ever “gets over” grief over the loss of a loved one, but I do know that everyone can keep putting one foot forward everyday. Maybe this is what people mean when they say, “It’s ok to grieve. Grieving is normal.”
I can’t forget the suffering my grandpa went through before his passing, but I certainly don’t remember him by that. When I think of my grandpa I always remember his loud deep singing voice and his silly high pitched giggle. I am just happy to have this memory and that I feel like I can still hear it when I imagine it. Even that’s motivation to keep moving forward. I will forever miss you grandpa and I will forever smile in your memory.