Death and Changing Times

On Tuesday night close to midnight my grandpa passed away. Though there have been deaths in the family before, this was the first time it had ever been so close and personal. I remember getting the call Sunday that he might not make it through the night and so I sped up to the hospital. He was in really bad shape and I was sure I was going to witness him dying right before my eyes at any second, but he was trying to hold on until my aunts could make it from out of state. He knew that he was fixing to die and he said he was ready for it. He was 89 years old and I still think it was a miracle that he lived as long as he did. Though his heart was giving out, his mind was still sharp. He was incoherent at times and my grandmother had to tell him a couple of times that they were in the hospital and tell him where they were, but other than those moments he could talk to us and knew who everyone was. He certainly knew who I was.

I eventually had to leave Sunday as I had a long drive home. It was a miracle when the next day I learned that he had not only made it through the night, but he was doing a little better. I came back up to the hospital and there were a lot of other people there too that had been close to him over the years, as we all knew he didn’t have long to live.

He and my grandmother were married for 67 years. My grandmother said a few months back that she married at 18 years old, about the same age as I was when I got married. They were together until he took his last breath. Though I had never discussed politics with my grandmother or anything, she was a housewife as well for a long time until the kids were about in high school. There was no stigma surrounding it.

And my grandpa, he was a good man and did a lot of things in his life. He had been in the service when he was younger, he had been badly injured and burned at work before- all things you see MRA types these days and men in general complaining about. But my grandpa never complained about anything and every time you’d see him he’d be happy and friendly, even at the end of his life when he was in so much pain. In fact, the only time I ever even heard him cuss was there in the hospital when he was about to die. We’d try to make him comfortable because he was in so much pain, and even then he was talking to me and trying to say the things he wished to say about us before he died (all good things). He never complained about how unfair life was or anything of the sort.

Death is a part of life, but I know it still hurts to think I’ll never walk in that house again and hear his voice. He’ll never be sitting in that chair of his talking to us again and he’ll never come walking down that hallway again. He’ll never tell us stories of his childhood again the way he always did throughout the years. And I always loved to hear those stories. I’d listen knowing that one day he wouldn’t be around to tell them anymore. He’d tell me about life during the Depression, going to school while WWII was going on and how they lived and survived during the hard times before there was any welfare.

I was there at the funeral home yesterday. Most of the family was not there as most live out of state. But I was there and we were talking about the pictures and memorabilia for the funeral this weekend. I thought of this one contraption he always used to show us when we were over. My grandpa was pretty good at making things. It’s funny how it’s always the little things in life like that that you remember at the end.

I’m glad he was alive to see one last Thanksgiving, one last Christmas, and one last New Year’s, but I also knew that, no matter how much we might have wished him to be around forever, he was in so much pain and could barely even function anymore and it was simply his time to go. In some ways it seems almost kind of selfish, to want someone to still be around simply because you might miss them, when it’s their time and there is peace that they might find in death. It hurts, but at least I know he doesn’t have to suffer anymore. I hope now he is at least resting in peace, even though I know he’s gone from my life forever.

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