Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nearing the End

Wow! What a response from you readers! Thank you for the hilarious, tear-inducing comments, the votes of support and for forwarding on the link to my blog. It obviously struck a chord with many of you. I have been working on "Confessions of a Real Mom, Part 2" in my mind over the past couple of days. It will be written, but unfortunately, not today.

I had a phone conversation with my father this morning regarding my 89-year old grandfather. He has suffered from Alzheimer's for over 10 years. That is an incredibly long time over which your mind and body to slowly deteriorate. His time on this earth has been prolonged solely because of the complete devotion of his caregiver, my grandmother. You can read about their incredible relationship here, in a post I wrote last April.

Sadly, my grandfather is losing his ability to swallow, his pacemaker the only catalyst keeping his heart beating. And, because of 3 weeks in the hospital, he can no longer sit up on his own. We are nearing the end. He is being moved back to the "home" where he has resided for the last 5 years and Hospice is being called in to make him comfortable. My heart is breaking for my grandmother. Simply breaking.

Some of you have had the privilege to meet my grandfather, Chip Aulbert, when he was still thriving. I have no doubt that you recognized that his small stature vastly contrasted with large volumes of love and laughter that he brought to the world.

He was crazy funny. One time, he hooked the video camera up when no one was home and recorded himself singing several songs. Actually, it was one song, a made-up song, just sung in several different octaves. The name of the song? "Pine Tree." The title being the only words of the song...just repeated over and over. Why did he do this? Simply for entertaining our family, bringing hilarity into our lives and giving us an experience to chat about for years.

This man had no high school diploma, yet became the head of engineering at Thomas Built Buses where he worked his entire life. He could invent and then fabricate anything. He was visionary.

He called me K.T., the only one in the family to do so. It always made me feel extra-special, most loved. He took me and my sister to our first and only circus show. Having an incredible addiction to sugar himself, he would constantly take us for ice cream, often at Swensen's at Friendly Center when we spent time at my grandparent's house. Much to our delight, he would, covertly, slip us candy. He helped me move into and out of college apartments, came to rescue me when I drove my truck into a lake and hugged me fiercely when my parents declared they were divorcing.

He called the light in the refrigerator and the high beam light on the dashboard of the car, the "Hootie." They would "magically" come on because of the mysterious "Hootie" and we believed every word. I can't believe we were so naive, and even as I write it, it doesn't make much sense!

And now, my grandfather, who brought a guaranteed smile to my face with just the mention of his name, is withering, deteriorating away. He is choking on his own saliva and there is nothing we can do, but watch and wait. My mind can only see the cruelty of what he has become and I am struggling with seeing the bigger picture. Lord, please take him home. Take him quickly and painlessly. Prepare my grandmother's heart and mind. And, in doing so, protect my grandmother from all-consuming grief and pain. Hear my heart, Lord, but let Your will be done.

3 comments:

Nena said...

i will be praying for you and your family. Love you!

Angela said...

Please give Gram and Paw big hugs and kisses from me.

School Transportation News Blogs said...

Stumbled across this posting about your grandfather and his time working for Thomas Built Buses. I write for School Transportation News Magazine (www.stnonline.com, dailyroutes.blogspot.com, etc.) And would like to learn more about your father. If you have a moment, please email me at david [at symbol] stnonline.com

Thanks!
David