Evil Grandpa. I wrote about him just about 4 years ago now.
Well, he’s gone.
I didn’t think I would say this: it hurts. Not in the way you would expect.
I’ll paint the picture, buckle up.
I heard stories that he had a hip replacement and wasn’t able to live on his own anymore because he wasn’t taking care of himself. They put him in a nursing home. I’m really not sure who “they” is to be honest, but either way, that’s where he was. I didn’t care.
There were rumors that once he was healed, and healthy enough for a second surgery, they would replace the other hip. I didn’t care.
I guess surgery time came around. No one told me. Why would they? I didn’t care.
I was at work and got a phone call. It was my mom. She started with “I know you probably don’t care, but…” then proceeded to tell me that he had gone in for surgery, something had gone wrong and he was now in a coma. That’s all I got, and of course the hospital. “Just in case”
Except she was wrong, this time, I did care.
I got off the phone and walked into my bosses office. I started with “my mom just called and…..” so I gave him a brief explanation. The same she offered me. I started to say “I don’t know what I’m going to need to do”. Because let’s be honest, I really wasn’t sure at that point. He just told me “go”. I looked at him and asked if he was sure. He said “go”. My mind had been made up for me, I wasn’t going to be allowed to stay at work.
And so it began.
I left work and headed to the hospital. I didn’t know who was there with him, or if there was anyone there with him. I wandered around and found my way to the ICU and they directed me to his room. There he was. Laying there with tubes coming from every direction and machines beeping everywhere. Helpless.
I didn’t know what to say to him. “Grandpa, it’s me” would have seemed appropriate, but to be honest, I didn’t want him to know I was there. Laying in front of me was the man that had caused me so much pain in my life, and the only things I wanted to ask were questions he could no longer give me answers to. It was just him and I in that room.
I hung around for only about 10min. Trying to find words to say something, anything to him. They just weren’t there. I cried a few tears and then left as silently as I came and went back to work.
A few days went by, visitors came and went for him. I couldn’t bring myself to go back. There was no improvement, so the doctor made the decision. He would give him the weekend, but if he didn’t improve by Monday, that would be it.
Side note: Before going into surgery, my grandfather had signed a DNR. He didn’t want to live life in a coma or run the risk of being permanently disabled should something happen. The catch is, he died on the table. They worked on him for 45 minutes to get him back. 45 minutes! Apparently a DNR does not apply to surgery and they have to take every measure to revive the patient. No matter the outcome. I’m not ok with that.
Monday came around, he hadn’t woken up so we were all requested to be present at the hospital. All who wanted to be there. I had made the decision that I did, in fact, want to be there. He was my grandfather after all.
I was one of the first to show up that morning. Aside from him cousin who was already in the room when I arrived. I walked in quietly, and looked at my Grandpa, but nothing had changed. Grandpa’s cousin hadn’t seen me in years, so he didn’t recognize me at first. He asked who I was, as a reminder. I will never forget what happened next. I answered him and told him who I was. As I spoke my name, Grandpa’s eyes shot open and started darting around the room. My heart sunk. He knew I was there, he heard me. After a minute or so, his eyes closed again.
The cousin and I spent some time catching up, talking about life and what was going on with us as we waited for others to show up.
*fast forward in time*
We started making calls to the family members that were supposed to be there to get updates on when they would be there. The doctor was waiting on us, thankfully. Grandpa’s cousin told me that my Grandma was supposed to be showing up, I wasn’t sure so I called her.
She said she didn’t think she was welcome at the hospital, or had gotten the feeling that she wasn’t welcome from Grandpa’s cousin. He is kind of an intimidating man. I told her I didn’t think that was the case and asked one simple question. “Do you want to be here?” She best around the bush and eventually said yes. I told her to get dressed and get to the hospital, we would wait. She agreed. She had every right to be there, she was married to him for decades, I wasn’t going to let anyone stop her.
*fast forward again*
The family was all together, something that hadn’t happened in almost 17 years, even my Uncle from Arizona was there. Of course, the circumstances weren’t great.
We let the doctor know we were ready.
Everyone went into the room, and got ready to say their last goodbyes before they took him off of life support. Obviously, you never know if it will be instant or take a while. I kept my distance. I wasn’t prepared to put that on public display.
Then another thing happened. My Grandma walked up, rubbed his head and put her hand on his cheek and whispered “I love you” to him and kissed his forehead. His eyes opened again, his head leaned into her hand. He was still there, he had proven it again. Everyone cried seeing that moment. I still cry thinking about it.
The doctors came in and started to shut off the machines and pull the tubes. I’ll spare details.
Obviously people don’t always pass as soon as the machines shut off and he was a fighter. We all gathered in a the room for a few hours, then people started to leave. I was getting to the point that I at least needed to go to work for an hour or so, his vitals were pretty stable.
Enter my mother, who can never seem to act like a rational human being.
I hear the words “I didn’t realize it would take this long. He has until 6pm and then I’m leaving.” I almost lost it. You are putting a time limit on your fathers death? I kept my cool, but also had to leave before I lost my cool. I told her that if she would stay until 6pm, that I would run home after work, take care of my dog, grab some clothes, and then I would be at the hospital. I could stay the rest of the night so he wouldn’t be alone. She agreed.
4pm came around. I text her for an update. No answer. I text her again. No answer. Then I called her. No answer. My mind went to the worst. Eventually, around 4:30pm, I text her boyfriend to see if he had heard anything. I’ll never forgive her for this. He text me back and said she was at home, sleeping. She was. She had left my grandpa there, by himself. I was infuriated.
I gave my coworkers a quick rundown, and ran out the door to the hospital. I called my Grandma and just said “you’re not going to believe it”. I told her where my mom was and she was, well, pissed as well. She told me to update her when I got to the hospital.
I got to the hospital in a hurry and headed up to the ICU. When I got there, I called the nurses desk to be buzzed in. They told me he had been moved, to some area that meant nothing to me. Something along the lines of “2 East” what does that mean? Is he gone? Is that the morgue? I had no idea.
I stopped at a nurses station and asked for directions. They gave them to me and I expressed me relief that it wasn’t the morgue. She then tried to tell me that it was a good thing he got moved to that room, it meant he was stable. I don’t think she understood what was really happening.
I found my way to him and walked into a room, empty except for 2 chairs and him laying in the bed. It felt desolate. It was depressing. Once I found him I called my Grandma to give an update.
She decided to come sit with us.
We met in the cafeteria of the hospital. I hadn’t eaten all day and absolutely needed to grab something. We stopped for a little bit and just talked. Talked about my mother (lots more to come on her) and just life. My grandma has always been one of my best friends.
We went back to the room to be with Grandpa. We sat and talked some more. Cracked some jokes, reminisced about how things used to be. Then I said it.
“You know, it’s amazing. Out of everyone, he hurt us the most, and here we are sitting by his side in his last moments of life. No one else. Us.”
It really makes you wonder if he could have read a head a few chapters to the end of his life and seen that moment, if he would have treated us different over the years.
About 8pm Grandma needed to go, it was a long day for both of us. She told me I needed to go. I told her I would and to go ahead, I wouldn’t be far behind.
She left, and I couldn’t. I was stuck. I tried to walk out the door, only making it a few steps to come back and sit next to him again.
I eventually gave up for a while. I just looked at him. I had all these questions I wanted to ask him, like before, but I still couldn’t even speak them. I eventually started crying.
The nurse came in to check on him, and saw me crying. She began to tell me how she understood my pain and how Grandpas hold a special place in their Granddaughters hearts. I just shook my head in disagreeable and through my tears managed to mutter “I hate this man”. I don’t remember what was said after that, but she kept trying to support me.
Eventually it was about 10pm. I had to go. I didn’t have clothes, my dog hadn’t been out in about 18hrs and I just had to go. I didn’t want to. No one deserved to die alone.
To this day, I am still furious with my mother for leaving him and not giving me the chance to take care of what I needed to so I could be there for him.
I bargained with myself. I was going to go outside and smoke. That would get me out the door, and then maybe from there I could convince myself to leave. I held his hand, said a few words and walked out to go smoke.
As I was heading to the elevator, his nurse caught me and asked if I was going to be back. I told her I didn’t know. She gave me a pass for the next day (since it was so late) in case I did come back.
I got outside and went to the smokers spot. I just kept telling myself through the tears “you have to go”. I was done smoking and headed for my car. Halfway home, I lost it. I was upset at myself for the things I hadn’t said, and realized I would never get that chance again. It hurt. Really bad.
I got home, did what I needed to do, and tried to get some rest.
I woke up the next morning for work at 430. Thinking “just maybe”. The first thing I did was call the nurses desk. I asked about his status and told her who I was. The nurse knew me by name from the night before. She informed me that he passed about 2 hours after I left. I cried and squeaked out “thank you” and hung up the phone. I sent texts out about his time of death.
That was it. He was gone.
If you’re wondering what could have gone so wrong to kill a man on the operating table for 45 min for hip surgery. Doctors determined it was a fat embolism that caused this nightmare. Beyond that, I don’t know. I’m not a doctor.
I’m not hurt because he’s gone, and it’s not because I don’t care. I do care, he’s still my grandfather. I’m hurt because of my mother. There is so much anger and resentment toward her for how she acted that day. Had she held up her end, he wouldn’t have died alone. I would have been there. That’s the part that hurts.
I’m not even going to mention his funeral, that’s another story to come in part 3.