My grandpa is dying. Yes, he’s been “dying” for a long time. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer 2 years ago and it has slowly been spreading into all of his other organs including his bladder, kidneys, and bones. He’s had a few falls and had to have surgery on his brain at least twice. Through all this he has been on almost NO medication his entire life. He has been a huge proponent of vitamins and took at least 30 of them daily for the last 30 years. Up until the last 3 years he was still going on regular cruises (with his girlfriend!), snorkeling in Cancun (for my wedding!), traveling the country to see all the National Parks, and up until about a year and a half ago — still driving! Oh, did I mention he is 98 1/2 years old? He has lived through two world wars (he was born at the tail end of WWI) and fought courageously during WWII. He served a total of 34 years of combined service as he retired from the FAA in 1973. He is an amazing man.
He has been one of the luckiest to have made it to almost 100 and not lost even a shred of who he was. He is sharp as a tack. No, sharper. He has never forgotten a name or a face, be that a person he shared his time with on his ship, the USS Portland or a long gone horse that belonged to a relative some 40 years ago. He is still there even as he battles for every breath and every beat of his heart and lies there with over 30 members of his broken but still loving and supportive family surrounding him. I sit here and I wonder if that is a blessing or a curse? Would it have been nicer to have been able to check out a while ago while waiting for your ridiculously stubborn body to finally give in to cancer? Or is having your mind 100% (maybe 98%) the way to go in the end?
Up until 2 days ago when he had a stroke and a seizure, we had to lie about giving him morphine for his pain because even at this stage of his death, he’s conscious enough that he didn’t like the idea of morphine. Until recently he thought that the 2 ibuprofen that he took every other day lasted and was all he ever needed for pain. That’s the power of the mind right there!
Despite all this and how he truly is one of the greatest persons on the earth that I’ve ever met (not without faults of course because who isn’t?), I can say that I am ready for his death. I do not like to sound selfish for for the last several years, every single holiday has been deemed his last “fill in the blank” and it has this weird cloud hanging over it. And then of course it wasn’t. I can’t imagine how that has felt for him and I’m sure that even though his body has been tough and as strong as it possibly could, it must get old to see just another holiday, another birthday, and be the last of your friends, the last of your shipmates, the last of your siblings…. the very last of everybody in your generation to survive. To have outlived your wife by almost 20 years and now your girlfriend of almost the same to be almost completely demented, might as well have outlived her, too.
Living to 100 must be an amazing “accomplishment” (is that a thing when talking about life’s longevity?) but it must also be very depressing. I’m ready for him to go. I will be sad, yes. You know I’m an atheist, so I don’t have any delusions that I’m going to be reunited with him, which is why I am glad I have been lucky enough to have had an amazing 31 years with him here on earth. I wish him peace now. And I hope that our broken family is able to get through this as peacefully and amicably as possible, although my hopes are very very small as there is a world of shit happening behind the scenes that is only going to blow up as soon as he actually does go.