Saturday, November 17, 2007

death...and some of it's faces

I had the unexpectedly wonderful and sad opportunity, the last few days , to go back to Reno and say goodbye to my Grandpa. I also got to see my Mom's side of the family for the first time since I was 16 (and before that since I was 6). I also got to hang out with my dad for a few hours. It was a good trip. It was an incredibly hard trip.

I received the news that my Grandpa was taken off of life support (as per his living will) and moved to a care home (from the hospital). So my mom flew me down. It was great to see everyone and to have little visits. They were very generous to me and welcoming. My mom and I spent a fair bit of time just hanging out with my Grandpa. At one point a few of my cousins had left, after visiting, and my mom was talking to the head nurse so it was just Grandpa and I. And I received a very precious gift...he had a clear moment (he is on a lot of morphine) and he just started talking to me. Sometimes it was hard to understand due to how slurred his words were. But the main gist of what he said was that he was so glad I had come and that he loved me. We were talking about how he loves to chew on ice and that must have been where I got it. Just simple things but important when it's really the last things we will have said to each other in this life. It was a precious time. It lasted for about 20 minutes. After he started to fade I sung him to sleep. He fell asleep with a smile and look of peace. I think I will always cherish that memory. As I was typing that my mom phoned. My Grandpa died today at 2:55 p.m.
(this painting is by Akiane and it's called "Returning Home")

I didn't get to know him as well as I would have liked. But when I was little he was always very kind and always had a smile and a hug for me. From what I have heard about him he was just a very sweet person. He generally deferred to others. Even on a high dosage of morphine he was concerned about others. He had an artists soul I think. A lover not a fighter...although I think there was some feistiness in there. When he was in his early twenties he was in University to become a pastor until he came down with Tuberculosis. He was in a sanatorium for several years. My mom's earliest memories of him are him wanting to be with Jesus. My grandparents were married married for 62 years and he loved my Grandma deeply. They just wanted each other it seems. Very rare that kind of love. Yes I would have liked to know my Grandpa more...perhaps in the next life...
I didn't like the retirement home he was in the last 5 days of his life. It really is just a warehouse where people go to die it seems. My mom and I really had to stand in the gap for him so he would get the proper treatment. I don't know what people who don't have relatives to intervene for them do. They must feel so forgotten. It was so draining being there in his room. My mom was there much more than I. I really respect the complete sacrifice of herself in that. She really hates anything like that but for her dad she was willing to put aside personal feelings and be there. So I imagine she will feel pretty emotionally frayed. I don't know how people go through these things without God. Where is the bigger picture if you don't know Him and rely on Him?
I was thinking about Keiko and wondering what it would take to train her to be one of those dogs that can go into a care home or hospital and cheer up people. She would be fabulous at that. She is such a happy and pretty puppy. I will have to look into that. I also saw some children coming to visit one of their relatives and watched my grandpa when some of my cousin's kids came to visit him. The light came back into their eyes just for a moment. Children are so precious. They bring such joy with them and delight. I have found that between children and a dog EVERYONE will talk to me because it is rare to find a person who doesn't like one or the other. I will think and pray on this...what I can do for the forgotten and helpless.
Anyway, all this reminded me that life is short...that each moment is precious. It made me think...if my funeral was held today...what would my legacy be? What would people be left saying about me? And most importantly, what would God say to me? Did I point others to Him or away from Him? It really puts what's important into perspective.