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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

gratitude: my grandpa

I'm preparing to say goodbye to one of the people I love most. 

My grandpa is in kidney and heart failure and has been moved to hospice.  Over the weekend, I visited him with my the rest of my family, and we spent a few really nice hours together.  Grandpa slept for a good portion of the visit since his body is slowing down, but I know he found comfort in having us with him.     

I've been doing my best to sit with all my feelings: the anger, the denial, the sadness, the emptiness, the happy memories.  Having said goodbye to several close family members over the past couple of years, I am very appreciate that I've been able to spend as much time as I have with my grandpa.   I'm also so grateful that he's not in a lot of pain.  I know he's uncomfortable and scared and confused, but his marine nature helps him deal with his physical struggles.   

It's strange and sad to see him decline.  Grandpa has been such a strong force in my life.  Physically, he has had a very commanding presence.  I always felt proud during grandparents' day in grade school because my grandpa was the tallest grandparent in the whole place, which obviously made him the coolest grandparent.  He also had dozens of medals from all of the Senior Olympics he participated in, which also made him awesome.  Emotionally, I knew I could always depend on him for support.  I also knew I could always depend on him for cheeze-its and Keebler cookies.  But, now he just seems to be shrinking away.  

Even in the midst of my disbelief and sadness, I also understand that this is part of life.  Seeing a person I love decline is difficult, but it also reminds me of the nature of the world.  Time passes.  We say goodbye to people we love, we say hello to new people we love.  Someday Paul and I will have children and grandchildren, and someday they will have to say goodbye to us too.  It's what makes life so wonderful, and sad, and beautiful.  

Mentally understanding this doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye to Grandpa.  But it is a gift to know we've had such a great relationship.  I have so many great memories of my grandpa.  It's also a gift knowing my grandpa lived a good, full, happy life.  It's a gift knowing that my grandpa has people who love him surrounding him as his life comes to an end.  It's a gift to know how much we all love each other.   

It's so hard to say goodbye, but I'm so grateful I've had such a great man as my grandfather. 

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