Thursday, April 03, 2008

She knew


In grandma's last good spell she kept on going on about the 3rd. Whatever she was saying, it kept on coming back to the 3rd. She got it right not once, but twice. I'll have to remember to take special care on the 3rd of each month, and to tell my family to do that too.

The routine was the same. The 11.55 phone call (almost exactly the same time). Quickly having my lunch before leaving the office, while phoning round and spreading the news. The phone call to my sister to confirm when it was all over.

To be honest, I think in reality the damage was done on Monday night. Everything since then has just been holding on, to see if there was a glimmer of hope. There wasn't, and this afternoon they took the ventilator tube out. From there on, it was inevitable and quick. I'm becoming a bit of an old hand at the whole process, sadly. Twice in four months.

There's a difference between me and Annette. She would rather not be there. She takes more comfort from visiting the funeral home and seeing them dressed, and made up, and not in pain any more, looking 20 years younger. I don't. I find it easier to cope if I'm reminded of why it's the right thing to just let them go. If I'm there, it reinforces in my mind that keeping them alive is no good to anyone, and that you have to accept it and move on. I suppose that's the difference between a death you've been preparing for for a while, and a sudden, traumatic one, but over the past few days I've been firmly of the belief that even if the doctors could save him, it would almost be cruel to do it.

So goodbye to the strongest man I've ever known. I started doing the sums in my head. He's always been disabled while I've known him, but it was only when I started to think about it I realised how young and vibrant he must have been when polio hit him. He can't have been too much older than I am now, in his 30s somewhere I would imagine. He poured so much energy into being this campaigning pillar of the local society that maybe I sometimes felt awe and respect rather than love. Or maybe that's just a different type of love.

He held on for the wedding. I'm shocked now that he actually drove over there and back in the state he was in (his car is adapted, and my grandmother doesn't like driving it, so if he's going somewhere and has to go in that car, he tends to drive it). He didn't make it to the ceremony, and that's when I realised something was really wrong, but he made it in the evening. When I saw him a couple of weeks ago he was getting confused, and iller, but he kept on coming back to one thing, "the wedding was lovely".

Last night I had a bit of a heart to heart with Annette, to tell her that she couldn't blame herself. Yes, the wedding took the last bit of strength he had out of him, but that was his choice. You could tell that he was tiring of life in some ways, the weekly hospital visits, the fact that there was no hope of a cure. If one thing didn't get him, the cancer would. It seemed to me when I saw him then that he was trying to tell us that the effort, and what it took out of him, was worth it. That he would have, and maybe did, give everything just to be able to see it. The wedding date was actually chosen to give grandma the chance to be there, as it turned out he only made it by a month, so an early wedding was worth the effort anyway.

I've ordered a black armband, which I intend to wear for FLM. I don't know how I'll cope with the emotion of the day. I got my place on the evening of grandma's funeral, and I'm guessing that the race itself will be a couple of days after or before his (mum is due to arrive anyway on Wednesday, so I imagine we'll wait until she gets here). Hopefully it will spur me on, although I'm not discounting the possibility of being a teary mess at the beginning or the end.

It's funny how running helps me cope though. We left the hospital at about half 3, and it was a lovely day. I couldn't face going back into the office (which is about 10 minutes from the hospital), and I had some running kit in my bag (let's face it, when don't I?), so I got changed and went for a 4 mile run to get some space in my head. I spoke to Annette, and they were going for a walk on the beach with the dog, which I suppose fulfils the same need, a bit of space, and air, and movement. (Although answering the phone to hear "I'm in bed with Chris and Aston" probably conjures up images I didn't want in my head - she's my little sister after all!). Hopefully FLM will help me deal with things in a positive way.

6 Comments:

Blogger G.G. said...

So sorry to hear about losing your grandfather. Tuesday was the 11th anniversary of my grandmother's death and I still miss her. But the good things they give us--they enrich our lives every single day, even after they're gone . . . .

3:14 PM  
Blogger Brigitte said...

My deepest sympathies.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Tori said...

Wow, I just found your blog and I'm so glad I did. I'm looking forward to reading more about you and your great journey!

Also, I've very sorry for your loss.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Rev said...

Oh Helen, I am so sorry about the loss of your grandfather. Your family has taken quite a beating this winter, and it must be so devastating for you all.

Deepest, deepest sympathies to you and the rest of your family. He looks like a lovely man.

3:40 AM  
Blogger canknitian said...

So sorry for your loss.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

Have been reading your blog for last couple months and gaining great running inspiration from it.
So sorry to hear of your loss.

10:02 AM  

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