One year ago on the Monday immediately following Father’s Day, I buried my grandfather. I say “I buried him” with full purpose and intent. Those of you who were around back then (a whole year ago lol) understand this.
For I was the one who had to make the decision. Life support, feeding tube, extreme measures? Me. Not his daughters, not my father. Not my brothers or any of the 4 cousins I shared him with for so long. It was on me. Never have I known such self doubt and self pity. Yes, I felt sorry for myself. Not in a blatant, whining way, but deep down, through it all, I was pitying myself for being the one it all fell upon.
I made the decisions, then I sat by his side as much as possible. I caught that 3 minute window of lucidity……where for the first time in 4 months he knew who I was and didn’t think I was an imposter trying to kill him. Think about that with me for just a moment. Throughout the entirety of 4 months he had thought I was someone out to help the doctors, nurses, guards, and other family members try to kill him. He had kicked me across a floor as I knelt to put a shoe on him because I didn’t want the police escorting him out of his home barefoot. I had sat in a courtroom and cried silently because I knew the grandfather I had known and adored, would have died of shame at having done what he had done, but this man, this dimentia riddled man was defiant and certain as he faced a judge who looked at him with kindness and sympathy.
I openly sobbed in a sideroom of that same court when the judge told me he would help me find a good place to let him spend his time remaining, but it was not ever going to be that he release him to me out of fear for the safety of myself and my children.
I dealt with the sympathetic looks from doctors who examined him for 10 minutes while he explained that I was poisoning him and refused to eat or drink anything that wasn’t sealed when it came to him. I did all of it. I even answered the questions of every nosey fucker in this tiny town. But make no mistake, I felt sorry for myself every step of the way.
The heartbreak and irony of those 3 minutes could have turned air into cream. Thick, heavy, milky…..filling my lungs with their irony. He loved me again for those 3 minutes, 3 minutes of time……..4 days after I made decisions that really were killing him.
I go day to day now without really consciously thinking about this. Most of the time. I have thought about little else today. About what was said between us in those three minutes. He said very little, as his throat was dry from being unable to eat or swallow to drink. I swabbed the inside of his mouth with pink, water-soaked sponge pops. Giving him the moisture needed to supposedly be in less pain. To make him comfortable. His voice was raspy and shallow. His body a shell of the man I knew just 6 months prior.
I am past the pity now. I view the time I spent as a learning experience. A broken mental health system. A broken justice system. A broken granddaughter who didn’t give up until the time came to let go. I can remember so many details so clearly, so much pain, anguish, angst.
I write this tonight because I couldn’t bring myself to speak of it to anyone today. I sit here now and cry alone because alone is how I felt throughout the entire ordeal. It’s a choice I make. Just like the choices I made then. I love him just as much at this moment as I did when I was 12 and he seemed like a giant of a man. I refuse to let my memories be overwhelmingly filled with those from the end. I choose to find the good ones, pull them forward and push back some of the ugliness. I do that most of the time. Just not tonight, tonight we have come full circle…….or something damn close to it.