I just recently found out that my grandpa on my dad’s side has got thyroid cancer. Although its usually easily treatable through surgery, my grandpa’s most recent surgery (he fell and broke his thigh) was not a very good experience. He almost died on the table, so they had to bring him out of the anesthesia… which meant he actually woke up during his surgery. He said it was the most painful thing he has ever experienced in his life. So now with the cancer, he doesn’t want them to resuscitate him when he goes into surgery… which will probably be next month or so.
Now today I found out that my grandpa on my mom’s side is dying. He has definitely been going downhill over the last year or so, but his kidneys just shut down. Which means he only has about a week or two left.
I know that it is life’s natural progression to have the older people die before the younger. I knew that my grandpa’s were going to pass at some point. But I just got back in touch with my grandpa on my dad’s side in the last couple of years. I missed a lot of years of getting to spend some time with my grandma. It was my fault. I couldn’t deal with my dad, so I separated myself from my grandparents, too. I kept thinking, I’ll talk to them next week or next month. And then I got news that my grandma died. I regret that wasted time. It is impossible to get back.
And now, I’m facing a kind of similar situation with my grandpa (mom). Over the past couple of years, I’ve called less and less and my life got busier and busier. And most of the time when I did call, I’d get an answering machine. I never got a response back. I’ve had the same number for close to 10 years now, but I don’t know if I have ever gotten a phone call from my grandpa and his new wife (my grandma died about 10 years ago and my grandpa remarried several years back). I understand why my grandpa doesn’t call… he’s never been a phone person. When my grandma was alive, he’d answer the phone and before I could even say “hi grandpa” he’d say “here’s your grandmother” and hand the phone to her. Its not that he’s not personable, he just is hard of hearing and I think to him the phone was always more annoying rather than useful.
I used to send flowers every week to my grandparents. But a couple of years ago, my grandpa’s wife asked me not to send them any more. I’ve never been good about writing letters and sending cards… I start them, but I never finish them and thus never get sent out. Don’t believe me? Open up my card box and you’ll see at least 10 cards filled out and never sent. I’m an eternal procrastinator. I tried calling my grandpa every week, or as close to every week but sometimes I’d forget, or it’d be too late, or I’d get the answering machine or… or… or. After awhile, I just kind of stopped calling.
But I never stopped loving him or thinking of him. There’s hardly a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of my grandpa. I grew up about a mile from them and I saw them at least once a week. Some weeks, a lot more! So my entire childhood is filled of memories of my grandparents. My mom was a single mom, so besides being my grandpa, he was also my father figure.
Now that I know his time is limited I feel so at a loss. I don’t know how to let him know how much he means to me. In some ways, this harder than when I lost my grandma because my grandma was sick for many, many years before she died. When she finally passed, I actually felt a sense of relief for her… and I still had my grandpa.
But now, I feel like the last of my immediate family is going. I know I have my husband and my son, but they don’t know my past, the inside jokes nor do they share the memories of my childhood. I don’t have any brothers or sisters to share my feelings, memories,etc with. My childhood memories only remain in my mind, now.