Eminent Death The Eminent Death During this past summer I experienced real pain and sadness as a result of a loved ones illness and ultimate death which was something I had never had to deal with before. My grandfather, Pappy, had been sick with cancer on and off for ten to fifteen years. He was a very animated, witty man – always sitting in his chair, watching TV, and smoking his cigars, unless he was out playing golf or helping Granny do something around the house. But he would be sure to take the time to show my cousins and my sister and I some new games or toys he had gotten for his computer, or just tell us hysterical stories and jokes whenever we were at their house. I remember being in elementary school and going to see him in the hospital while he was there for chemotherapy. It was weird seeing my Pappy in a hospital bed so helpless, but I was young so I did not think about it.
Thankfully he pulled through and was soon back to his old self again. There were other times when he was in and out of the hospital for a while, but my Pappy would always recover. The first to crack a joke at holiday meals or make the grandchildren laugh by putting his bolo tie in his nose during pictures; he loved the attention from his family. As I got into high school, I began to realize that my Pappy was not doing as well and going as strong as I had pictured. One could easily see the gray streaks coming in to his hair, turning it from a dark brown to a sort of salt and pepper look, and finally to a light gray. He began to resort to the use of a cane when walking around.
My parents never really informed what was happening, just that he was not doing well or in the hospital or had worsened in his condition. At the end of my senior year and the beginning of the summer, things began to get really bad. I saw my dad and my uncle becoming the parent to my grandfather, and him becoming the child. It is one of those things that you hear about happening, but it does not click in your head until you actually experience it. My grandmother would call my dad to hurry over at least once a week because he had fallen and she was not able to help or he had another sort of accident that she was not capable of handling herself.
I remember coming home from school one day and my father told me that Pappy was in the hospital and that I needed to go visit him because he was going to die soon. I did not know what to think about that except that I had to get over there fast. I went with my mother and it tore me apart inside to see my grandfather in that state. He had been sick the whole night before throwing up blood and my grandmother had rushed him to the hospital as soon as possible. Lying there, in the hospital bed, with all these cords and tests running through him – this was my grandfather.
After a day or so the hospital released him and life went on, but he kept getting worse and worse. Summer began and I had a time-consuming job at the pool as a swim team coach, a swim instructor, and a lifeguard. I tried to go over to visit my grandparents as much as possible because I knew that Pappy would not make it much longer. One day as I returned home from work my mother told me that Pappy had a new tumor. He was going to have to get a MRI to find out whether it was benign or malignant. When my grandmother had taken him to the hospital, the doctors would not allow her to be in the room with him during the MRI.
This caused Pappy to have a panic attack and not be able to complete the tests. All the doctors knew was that there was a tumor on his spine, and that it was slowly deteriorating his ability to walk and move around. It was suggested to my grandmother that she put Pappy on Hospice Care, where a hospital bed would be placed in the house for him along with a daily nurses visit, medication, and someone available to help after a phone call. After long, hard discussion my grandmother decided to go along with this plan. Pappy could not walk or do anything without the help of others and this seemed like the most sensible thing for her to do for both of them. It was heart wrenching seeing him lying in that bed almost completely helpless.
He was able to feed himself, but Pappy needed help standing if he wanted to move to his chair which was right next to the bed. He couldnt even shift positions in the bed without help. My grandmother could never leave him alone because he was incapable of doing anything for himself, by himself. The doctors said that he would probably only last in such a condition for a short time. Day by day Pappys condition progressively got worse and worse.
The color of his face became paler and paler as days went by. He didnt even realize that it was summer time because he was never able to go outside or see the daylight except for the little streaks of sun that shone through the thin slits of the blinds. I was over at their house one day and he asked When is it going to get hot? Everyone else in the room new that there was scorching heat outside. It was getting harder to have a conversation with him because he would lose his concentration or dose off in mid-sentence. After a month Pappy was still alive and going, but not strong or lively anymore.
One could see him becoming increasingly miserable as the days dragged on. His usual witty, amusing personality was still there as a front, but underneath he struggled. My mother said that on more than one occasion Pappy would say You better come see me tomorrow because I am going to die soon. He knew that it was his time to go as well as the rest of the family did. The first weekend in August my mother and I were going to take a trip to Colorado.
I went to go see Pappy before we left and he could barely gain the strength to stay awake, much less speak to me. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and he awoke to acknowledge my presence and to try to talk with me, but he groggily fell back asleep. The next time I saw him was the night I returned from my trip. We returned late that night and I had gone over to my best friends house to say goodbye. She was leaving for Purdue the next morning and I wanted to hang out with her for one last time.
I was over there for an hour with two of my other best friends when my sister called to tell me that Pappy had died in his sleep. I raced home with tears streaming down my face to hop into the car with my mother and sister to head over to my grandparents house. That was the last time I ever saw my Pappy. Hospice Care had not come to take the body away yet. There he was, my grandfather that I had grown close with over my eighteen years, lying lifelessly on the little hospital bed in the living room.
He was peaceful, yet cold and stiff. I was frightened. All my emotions raced through my veins as I just wanted to hold him, hear his voice, his laugh, and see his smile one last time; yet he just lay there. I kept thinking I could see his chest swell again as if he was in taking air and would soon awake from a deep sleep, but there was nothing. My cousins came over and we held each other and cried as a family.
My grandmother informed us of how Pappy had often stated his love and pride for his family that was so dear to him, and how that night he exclaimed his love for her. We comforted one another as only a family can. They soon came to take the body. I had never given any thought to the phrase take the body or move the body that you hear actors use in movies or on television. Now someone was using such a phrase to describe my grandfather.
I remember thinking How dare they refer to my grandfather in such a manner, but that is what he was. The spirit, life, and personality were all gone. Only a memory was left to look back and ponder on. The next two days flew by in a daze. I was expected to be with my family and grieve with them as I solely packed myself for college.
My parents were busy making arrangements for the funeral. It was tough trying to pack and say goodbye to all of my closest friends, but undoubtedly I spent all possible time grieving with my family especially my sister and two cousins. We went to spend the night with my grandmother before the service so that she would not have to be alone. The service was a nice, very characteristic of my grandfather and his personality. His barber, also a good friend, sang and another close friend spoke about Pappy and all he had meant to everyone.
Although sad and agonizing, it was a time to honor my grandfather for everything he had accomplished in his life and just him, himself, for being the wonderful husband, father, and grandfather that he was. I felt honored in being able to honor him. It was a time to bond with my family and realize that Pappy was in a better place, finally out of his earthly pain and suffering. Never having experienced a situation of this caliber before, I was not sure of how to handle it. I grieved and cried, but I do not think that I ever opened up to let my real emotions out.
I miss him dearly, but in many ways being off at school makes his death seem unrealistic because I do not see my family often anyway. I realize that at the next holiday it will be odd not having Pappy there as a part of the festivities, as an important part of the family. Death of a loved one is something that everyone experiences and has to learn from. It caused me to began to examine the value of life, what it means to be alive and live life fully, as a result of his passing. Death is not a pleasant new literacy to experience, but is necessary in the evolution of life.