16 December 2007

Echoes of Life



We visited my grandfather two weeks ago, and my parents joined us in Alabama in the afternoon of that Saturday. My mother hasn't left her birth state since, remaining as a caretaker since his wife fell and broke her hip that evening.

He's had prostate cancer for awhile, and only recently doctors discovered the cancer has spread elsewhere in his body. I spoke to my Mom Saturday afternoon after a day of flag football for our middle son and some errands. Along with my aunt since Wednesday, she has taken care of him at his house. Many of the signs that he was close to passing away have been evident recently, and she contacted the hospice center to take him in.

Hospice care is pretty incredible in situations like this. The facility is less than two years old I believe, has ten beds, a cook on staff for meals, a kitchen if you want to cook your own food, a small business center, conference rooms, a kids room, etc. The goal of the center is to provide comfort and peace in the last days of life. My grandfather has a catheter, and that is the only tube in his body.

Yesterday was quite bad from what I could gather, and today was pretty good I think. I was able to chat him up, and always he appreciated my dry wit as well as his.

(Apologies for the political incorrectdness of these quotes from today's action)

Papa: "Are you going fishing with us?"
CC: "Sure, but I can't take a fish off the hook. You'll have to do that for me."
Papa: "How much are you willing to pay?"
CC: "How much do you charge? $5, $7?"
Papa: "Hehehehehe!"
CC: "I got a Mexican who can do it for $2 a fish if you charge too much."

Papa: "Can you scratch me?"
CC: "Where do you want me to scratch you?"
Papa: "On my butt."
CC: "I can scratch you there."
Papa: "I'm scratching my balls."
CC: "Look, there are some places I won't scratch you."
Papa: "Ann! (his wife) Get in here. This boy won't scratch me!"


This is plenty (of course you had to be there). Mainly, today was alot of hand holding, occasionally saying a sentence or two, then sitting back. Papa would suddenly talk to someone from seventy years ago as his line of sight moved from me to a point of intimacy or regularness from long ago. These were echoes of life, the voices and images cast deep into the cave of his journey, only now returning to his ears and eyes and mind.

I'm not sure what happens next. I have a fairly busy day tomorrow that I'll do from here. Hopefully, I'll be able to work from the Hospice Center.

One quick side note. If you don't have a will and a living will, get one done for you and your family before January is over. These situations are stressful and generally no fun, and everything from care to dispersing assets and personal items are fraught with alot of pain in the face of grieving. I'm a step away from the emotion of all this, which makes it easier for me to be here in the midst of this. For daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, and wives, no good can come from figuring all this stuff out.

Thanks for your emails and comments (csquard@gmail.com), they are greatly appreciated. Any happy thoughts can be sent to my wife who is herding the three boys at honeycunn@yahoo.com.

4 Comments:

Blogger Peter said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:27 PM  
Blogger The Wife said...

CC:

Hang in there . . . hospice is a blessing and a sad reality, all at the same time. I was 16 when my grandfather went there for his final days (and after months of helping my grandmother take care of him, it was alternately sad and a relief to have someone else bear that burden with kindness and patience and dignity that he deserved); it was my mother-in-law's final stay, too. If they can't be with us the way they used to be, it is good to have people who can make those last days with us more comfortable and easier for everyone.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, dear man. You have a strong and caring heart; it will serve you well.

Reach out if you ever need.

8:26 PM  
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