Sunday, July 23, 2017

"Grandma, has Papa Died Yet?"

"Grandma, has Papa Died Yet?" That is a question I answered yesterday after getting home from visiting Gary while my Grandson was "helping" me pack boxes.

I visited Gary who was wide eyed, sitting straight and despite the look on his face, enjoying the unit dog Annie.

I stayed only a short while.  Each visit gets harder as I see a progressive decline even though his doctor says he is stable.

I explained to Alexander that Papa is still alive and that I would make sure that his Mom and I tell him when Papa goes to live with Jesus.  He nodded and seemed okay with the answer. 

Today after church, I debated visiting.  I'm torn between what Gary knows and what he doesn't.  So, I erred on the side of guilt and went.  What else would I be doing, right?

The caregiver was starting to feed Gary his water and juice with a spoon after his meal.  I went for a straw and she indicated that he cannot suck very well and that he gets his liquids by spoon now.  Of course, I did not believe her and helped myself to a straw from the cabinet.  She was half right.  He drank all of his juice through the straw very rapidly.  When it came to the water, he would not suck.  So, I fed him his thickened water until it was dry.  He "ate" it very fast. 

He was sitting over very dramatically and no matter what I tried, he COULD NOT sit straight.

I rolled him into the living room where there was less noise and action.  Ironically, the Statler Brothers cd was blaring in the background with great Virginia Gospel playing.  (Hometown singers).

He was whispering constantly but his words were indecipherable.  I kept my ear next to his mouth and showered his forehead with kisses while I listened to no avail.  I held his hand and a couple of times he scratched my palm.

I took off his sandals and gave him a leg/foot rub.  He made noises as if he enjoyed it.  Meanwhile, I playing some Grateful Dead (Truckin, Ripple, Touch of Grey)and Pink Floyd (Wish you were here, Comfortably Numb). He showed no reaction but each song is tied to a memory stored somewhere in the hard drive of his brain.  Perhaps  when he meets Jerry Garcia in Heaven, he can share those memories!

As I started to really get emotional again, I decided to leave.  I drove home and went swimming with our daughter and grandson.  They had no idea how timely and therapeutic the time spent together was for me.  I so appreciate having them in my life.

So, yes Alexander, Papa is still alive for now.....

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I couldn't stop crying....

I have been on vacation for nearly two weeks and only saw Gary once last Saturday for a brief time.  The Hospice Doctor says he is stable for now and rescinds his comment in the Winter that if Gary lived to August One it would be a miracle.  I guess miracles do happen.

So, after a week at Disneyland and the beach with five foster kids.....I am exhausted.  They filled my days, evenings and heart with love, hugs and accomplishment.  What a difference Philanthropy can make in one's heart.

I went to see Gary today.  I was very emotional going in and maybe shouldn't have.  I was teary all day.  When I arrived he was in his bed and they had not gotten him up for dinner.  The angels said he had been really sleepy all day and very hunched over in his chair. 

I walked into his room to see his eyes shut, obviously asleep but his left eye was partially open and rolled back in his head.  That was a little scary but his breathing was normal.  I touched his head, his hand and his arms.  No response.  So, I sat down next to him on the bed and waited.

At one point, he opened both eyes and stared off straight.  I said, "Hello Baberoon.  There you are!"  No response.  So as I was wiping tears, I saw our framed wedding vows by his bed and decided to read them to him.  With tears pouring, I read aloud the words we shared nearly 32 years ago. I looked at me.  I think it was more an awareness that someone was crying than anything else. 

I played the following songs which all had significance to us:

"Have I Told You Lately that I love you?"
"The Wedding Song"
"Amazing Grace (my chains are gone)" - during this one he furled his brow and whimpered.  He used to love that song.
"10,000 reasons - Bless the Lord"

I cried the whole time.  I handed him his stuffed animal at one point and put his arm across it.  With one motion, he lifted it off his chest and deliberately handed it to me.  His first movement.  It was shocking.  Then, he grabbed my arm and would not let go.  It was not forceful but loving.

In the picture, it appears he is looking at me but he is looking beyond me. 

One of the caregivers came in to ask if they wanted me to bring his supper in bed.  I couldn't take much more and did not want to cry in front of her so I left.  I immediately, for the first time, walked into the managers office and broke down.  I sobbed.....and sobbed.  Even Annie the dog felt my grief and jumped in my lap to lick my nose.

I straightened myself up and stopped feeling sorry for myself.  As a headed home, I got angry.  I spent the rest of the evening sitting in front of the television in a zombie-like state.  Bed could not come too soon.

What will today bring?