the reality is (part two)…

part one

for as long as i can remember, he was there. he was strong. he was active. he took me fishing. whenever we visited, i was his little shadow. everywhere he went, i went also. i would sit by him always, eat by him. he was immortal to me.

it never occurred to me that he might get old, get frail and die. not once. not until we were going to my sister’s wedding and he had a mild seizure and couldn’t go. at the airport, he had it. in the shuttle. it scared me to death. that was about 6 years ago now.

then came the memory loss. not knowing where the milk was supposed to go. then the alzheimer’s diagnosis. that was a devastating blow to me. for the first time, i was forced to come to grips with the fact that he is mortal. he is not going to be here forever. i looked forward to with eager anticipation and dread every time we saw him. i never knew how much worse he was going to be but i wanted to spend every minute i could with him. and every time, he was weaker, more forgetful.

this last thanksgiving was really hard. it was just a few of us and he though he knew the protocol of having guests over, he just wasn’t himself. he had such a blank look on his face. he was so… mild. so not himself. that was when the prospect that he might not be able to come to my now impending wedding really set in. i think that he knows that he knows me but he’s not exactly sure how. it hurts. i knew it would but i don’t think i knew how much. i don’t think i anticipated how hard it would be to see him go like this.

and now he has leukemia. it’s a slow acting one. i know there’s a word for it but i don’t know what it is. they’ve been monitoring him for two years for it and just now are able to diagnose. it’s stage zero. rumor is that nothing is going to be done about it. rumor is that they’re just going to let it run its course. this is what will ultimately kill him.

another large pill to swallow. another reason that he won’t live forever. i’ve always had a hard time coming to grips with that. i’ve never quite been able to wrap my arms around it. never quite been able to accept it. but i have to. i don’t have a choice.

for a while, i thought that i had been brought to james to help him through his grandpa’s medical issues. that it was just a really perfect timing thing. and now i know that we were brought to each other to help each other out. to help each other stand. to be a shoulder to cry on. to have someone be there who will simply be there. who will sit for two hours and not say much. who realizes that i don’t want to talk about it. who realizes that i just need him to be there, to be near. to be strong for me. i know that God is enough to get me through, but i know that it is much easier having someone else there too. someone physically there. i know this is going to be hard, but i know that i have someone to count on.

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4 thoughts on “the reality is (part two)…

  1. I am so sorry. Watching a grandparent die is never easy—and seeing someone you regard as strong become more and more frail is heartbreaking. No words can fix it, but know I’m thinking of you.

  2. Dad says:

    I understand the feelings. It is not the same man I watched when I was a kid growing up. Feelings of helplessness watching from the outside. Not knowing what is still there on the inside. Wondering if what I see there is what I will become in 25 or so years? ……………….

  3. Kimwithak says:

    I’m so sorry you have to go through this. My grandmother had dementia and I know where you’re coming from on the recognition thing. It can be a scary thing.

    I’m just sorry…that’s all I can say.

  4. Tabitha says:

    Oh, Cari…that totally sucks. My mom told me a little about watching her grandfather suffer from Alzheimer’s, too, but she was in her 40s when he died, so they had a lot more time together than you’ve had with your grandpa. I’ve only recently begun to experience the pain of watching a grandparent slowly deteriorate (gah, that sounds too harsh). But I’m so glad that you have James there to hold you, comfort you and listen to your memories of your grandfather.

    Much love!

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