Sunday, March 29, 2009

What's Grandpa Saying?

When my dad called me on March 18th to tell me that my grandfather was in the hospital and wasn't coming out, I was shocked. He'd overcome lung cancer and was well enough at Christmas to have a snowball fight. And now he's on his deathbed with brain cancer?!

He did come out of the hospital which is great. He was having black-outs and weird seizure things, So they decided to radiate the three major tumors in his brain (there isn't much they can do for the other tumors). These tumors will not go away.... and they will kill him. However, He seems to be doing much better. I am glad that I have come out to see him and be with him.

He had a priest come over and heard his confession and gave him communion. My grandfather said he didn't want to confess everything he'd done in the last 50 years since his last confession. That gave the priest the opportunity to direct him to the forgiveness and grace of Christ. Hallelujah.

The hardest thing is watching my relatives cry over this thing that will happen. Aunt's and Uncle's crying because their father is dying. My mom is beside herself. I sometimes have to beg her to go see him. When I see him he says, "bring your mom, your dad, and your sisters...". My sister Paris has been in utter denial. She refused to see him saying with certainty, "he will not die". Let's be realistic.

On Monday I took my sister Paris with me to visit him at his house (which now has a hospital bed in the living room). He didn't recognize her and said, "Who's your friend?" I said, "Grandpa, this is Paris." He hasn't been completely out of it but He does recognize his limits. He was making plans for the things he'd like to do in the summer.

Today my grandmother asked us to come stay with him for a while. She told us that he'd been very disoriented. And as we talked with him we noticed something changed. He was slurring more of his words. His face was very red and the tone of his talk changed. He wanted to tell us how he was sorry he hadn't spent more time with us and How he'd wished he had spent some of his time "making the world a better place". It sounded like he was saying good-bye. It was very surreal until He became suddenly become very dizzy and tired.

He also told us how much he appreciated my grandmother, "She takes such good care of me". He loves her soooo much. He started telling us about all the things that he appreciated. It really reminded me of this story that Leo Tolstoy called "The Death of Ivan Ilyich": This man had lived such a proper life and even though he had lived a good life he had been so selfish. In his family he saw that "their every word and movement confirmed to him the awful truth that had been revealed to him during the night. In them he saw himself — all that for which he had lived — and saw clearly that it was not real at all, but a terrible and huge deception which had hidden both life and death." He tries to share this revelation with his wife but she doesn't understand.

My grandfather, realizing his time is very short, seems to be doing the same. Showing his gratitude but also saying that he wants us to go out and change the world. Telling of the things he'd wished he'd done. His eyes have been opened and he shares it with everyone. If you knew you were going to die in a very short time what would you do? We go on expecting that we are going to have one more day. But 10/10 people die... every person's days are numbered.

"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." - Psalm 139:16