life's end

I am sitting in my grandfather's bedroom, watching him sleep fitfully. He is clutching a bar hanging above his hospital bed, even as he sleeps. He told my mother today that he fears that if he releases the bar, he'll "fall off the precipice."

I last saw him 14 days ago. He was very, very sick then. Now he looks like he already has one foot one the other side. I know he needs to go, but I also sense that he isn't completely ready. He's still fighting it.

My Uncle John and sister Betsy, with the help of the hospice people, have rearranged my grandmother's office into a bedroom for my grandfather, with a hospital bed and a beautful view out the window. There are fresh flowers from my brother's garden on the windowsill. The people my grandfather loves are in and out day and night, caring for him. My Uncle John has taken a leave of absence from his job as a school teacher to move in and be here nearly 24/7 to care for my grandfather and help my grandmother prepare for the change that is coming.

We are lucky that it was a possibility for him to remain at home, with hospice care and family help. This isn't feasible for many families. One factor that has made it more do-able for us is that there are a lot of us and although we bicker and complain, we remain almost bizarrely connected to one another.

In an age when better jobs and bigger houses conspire to lure family members apart, until clans become diluted to the point of uselessness, we have not become diluted. We are concentrated, which can be bitter sometimes, but makes us powerful when needs arise.


Cathy said...

"diluted to the point of uselessness"
Powerful post Katie.

Anonymous said...

It'd be nice if you'd show me where the "better jobs" are.

Katharine said...

May your grandfather pass peacefully, Katie, and the memories you have of him comfort you and yours.

Laura Linger said...

Your grandpa knows that you are there with him, and believe me, that means more to him at this time in his life than anything else. When I lost my dear Daddy in 1999, so young at 53, from a cancer that hit him like a typhoon and left him every bit as devastated, the one thing that gave me solace was that he knew that his children loved him. My sister Jane was even with Dad when he passed. I don't think that we, as human beings, can ask for anything more than that.

I'll pray for your grandfather, and for your family. May you all be strong in your love for each other.