Monday, August 19, 2013

Goodbye, Grandpa David

Grandpa David's 89th birthday

Less than 24 hours after writing and posting my last entry, my Grandpa David passed away.  We were supposed to go to New York City Saturday for a birthday party, but instead I stayed home so I could sit by his side, and I'm glad I made that decision. I sat alone with him for a while and held his hand.  He wasn't talking, but he was awake and aware.  At one point he seemed uncomfortable and so I got an aid to come in and help him adjust in bed.  Worried about bed sores.  It seems foolish now.

Who knows what he was thinking in those last hours, or how much he knew (although it seemed like some of the time he knew exactly what was going on).  I sat there and thought about all the places his legs had walked and that they'd never walk again, all the things his eyes had seen and that the last things they would see would be the four walls of that room.  There were pictures of my grandma around, and I thought about how happy they had been together, how much fun they had had, and how much he must miss her.  I told my grandpa some of the things that I remember especially about him, and us: how he could park a car without automatic steering in a parking spot only 2 inches larger than the car itself without any mistake or need for correction; how I wouldn't speak French when I was in Paris with them and have been angry with myself ever since, and that in my first therapy session that was what I cried about.  I told him it was a beautiful day and that we were planning to have cheeseburgers for dinner.

After the aid adjusted him in bed, he fell asleep.  I sat and read.  I left at 5 to go home to my family, and my aunt Jane and uncle Ed came to sit with him.  He was still asleep.  I forgot to kiss him goodbye; somehow I convinced myself I would see him again and that he would be there tomorrow.  He died around 7:15 when Jane went out to pick up food, and only Ed was there.

I wish I believed in heaven, and that I could imagine they are holding hands again, reunited after their brief separation.  That would make me so happy.  What I do know is that he is no longer missing her, and he's no longer alone.  He lived a full and wonderful life.  He changed so many people's lives- emails are pouring in to my mom and her siblings from friends around the world who remember his vital role in their lives.

It is still unreal to me that he is actually gone.  Last night I went with my mom and my uncle Richard to help pack up some of the most valuable items in my grandparents' room.  I cried- seeing the bed, with the blankets removed and the bedside table pushed aside to remove his body.  Knowing that bed was the last place both of my grandparents took a breath.

I am so grateful for the years I had with both grandparents, and the opportunity to know them as an adult, and for them to know and love my children.  Saying goodbye is heartbreaking- but certainly an indication of how important they were to me, and just how deeply loved I felt by them.

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