I am flying out of Winnipeg. I said goodbye to my Grandpa and will likely not see him again. I don’t think that has really sunk in. When I left him in the hospital he was so alert and awake, it’s hard to reconcile that image of him with what the doctor/nurses are saying is going to happen to him in the weeks and possibly days ahead.
As each person left and said goodbye (nephews and nieces, family friends, his pastor) he would say “The Lord be with you” to each person. As I kissed him on the forehead and said goodbye, he said the same to me. I replied by saying “and also with you Grandpa”. I don’t really know if he knew that this was our final goodbye.
I told him I was looking forward to seeing him at his 95th birthday party in August. He smiled and laughed quietly. He’s easily tired and often short of breath so any verbal exchange takes a lot out of him.
As people came by, he would wake up to say hello. Sometimes he knew their names and recognized them, at other times, he struggled. When he did, my aunt would quietly whisper it to him.
When he said goodbye to Helen, his wife, as she left for home for night, he seemed more sad than usual. My mom thought this made him remember that he wasn’t going back home again – back to the apartment they shared and the life they had. He seemed to be almost crying to himself. There were no tears, I think he was too weak for that, but he closed his eyes and seemed to cry inside to himself.
Before we left for supper at my cousin’s house, I sat with him. Just my grandpa, my mom and I in the room.
I held his hand as he drifted off to sleep and I could feel him gripping my hand. I’d like to imagine in his dreams he was back in his bed on the farm, having a nap during a break at a family gathering. Looking forward to whatever my grandma was going to make for supper, the card games we’d play after dinner, and the laughter and fun of having the whole family together under one roof.
I wish he would see his 95th birthday in August, but I know the pneumonia will take him before then, if something else doesn’t fail him first.
I pray that his final days are filled with family and friends, smiles and cries. And that when he does finally go to sleep, I pray that he gets to enjoy the deepest, most comfortable sleep he’s had in recent years.
Just like the sleep I had with him many years ago as I curled up on the floor of the combine on a hot, fall day during harvest.
Update 2014-05-27 4:36 PM: My grandpa passed away peacefully in his sleep. Goodbye Grandpa.