October 18, 2008


Last Friday my grandpa was taken to the hospital by ambulance because my grandma found him to be unresponsive. My mom left immediately. Saturday morning sometime between 7 and 9 am he had a stroke. (Or possible a few strokes?) My cousin Jer drove up to my house on Saturday and we left Sunday morning to go to Michigan to the hospital. His mom had left Friday to go too, but since we didn't know how bad it was (or was going to be), everyone else just waited.

Walking into the hospital room I was not prepared to see what I saw. My grandpa was laying there like a fragile little hurt bird. I'm not sure why I thought of a bird, but I did. I immediately began to cry and couldn't even go over to his bed until we got back from lunch. Then I just tried to tell him who I was, that I loved him and just rubbed his forehead. The boys didn't want to get close and I didn't make them.

There ended up being 10 family members in the room that day. Each one took their turn at different times going to his side and talking to him. Sometimes he would laugh or answer with something that didn't make much sense, but just to see him make the effort was nice.

We all fell apart at different times (and perhaps for different reasons) but there was always someone else to hold the other up, to give a hug, or make them laugh.

We left later that afternoon and said our good byes. Maybe just for that visit, maybe for the last time. The boys did end up hugging him good bye. On their own.

Besides the stroke that will never let him walk again, he also has Alzheimer's. Not a good combo. He's out of the hospital and in a rehab nursing home, but he will never go back to his own home. I can't imagine what my grandma is going through.

The truth is, we lost him a few years ago. Watching his mind go was very hard, but watching his body go is just as sad.

He's my grandpa and I love him, but I can't fathom what my mom and aunts are going through. This is their father. Their only living parent. They lost their mom at a very young age. I'm sure it hurts just as bad now as it did then. I don't think it matters how old you are when you lose (or are losing) a parent. You'll always feel like a child inside.

My grandma calls him Ben. His name is Cliff.

Here's to you Ben... this song has always made me think of you. I know you'll get to where you're going.