Little Bits of Pixie Dust

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thourougly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!!"

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My grandmother is in the hospital and they are saying that she might not make it out again. She has kidney failure and congestive heart failure. Yesterday they moved her up to the hospice floor of the hospital, and they are only giving her "comfort care" now, meaning that they are only giving her pain medication to make her comfortable. They aren't doing dialysis anymore, and she is off all of the antibiotics. On Sunday she ate Burger King for the first time in six years (a Whopper with onions) and while she munched happily I couldn't help thinking that the only reason she was allowed to partake in the BK goodness is that there is no more hope.

She is very confused and doesn't really know what is going on. Sunday was her 78th birthday, and the whole family went to see her. While we were there, she yelled at my dad for spraying bugs and she told the doctor that she was bleeding orange drink. My mom offered to brush her hair, and she curled up like a little kitten and just smiled with pleasure as my mom combed her fingers through her hair. This is what she used to do when I was sick, so I know how good it felt to her. My uncle called in the middle of this and grandma took the phone and said, "I can't talk now, I'm at the beauty parlor getting my hair done." Then she scrunched back down in the bed and motioned for my mom to continue.

It is really hard to watch your dad lose his mother. I can't even imagine how that must feel. I don't know what to say or how to say it, and I just don't know what to do. I hate seeing him like that, my dad is always joking around and laughing, and now he just has a half smile on his face all the time, while tears gather in his eyes. I feel so helpless when I look at him; I just don't know what to do to make the pain go away for him.

One of the hardest moments, though, was when my grandpa, who is a robust Italian man, said softly, "You just don't know how lonely it can get in that house until you're there all alone." I saw tears beginning to collect in the corners of his strong blue eyes, and I had to look away.

Basically everyone is just waiting. My other uncle is on his way here from Florida right now, and the family has been sleeping at the hospital in shifts, so that she doesn't have to die alone. This is very important to all of us now, including me... we don't want her to be alone. She gets more and more confused as the days go by, and sometimes she doesn't recognize us, but I know that she knows we're there. She's hanging on, but it won't be much longer.

The last memory I have of the grandma that I love is of Christmas this past year, as she sat in the living room and watched her family crowd in around her. She loved to have the house full, and enjoyed nothing more than cooking for an army. She drew great pleasure from all of her grandchildren, especially the little ones. Her and my grandfather eloped when they were only nineteen years old, and haven't left each others sides since.

Before we left the hospital the other day, she called out plaintively, "I just wonder when I'm ever going to be able to go home!" My grandpa patted her hand and whispered, "Soon enough, mama, soon enough."


  • At 8:22 AM, Blogger Jay said…

    Wow, that really made me weepy. We went through the same thing this summer. It's an impossible situation, really.

    I'm glad everyone is gathered together. It's a small comfort, but still a comfort.



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