Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Near Death Experience

Have you ever been near death?

Not your own...

but some one else's?

I hadn't been,

until last night.

I had just been having a great time with my mom, sister and aunts at my cousins wedding shower and then we got the news that my mom's dad (my grandpa) just had another stroke that day. My Uncle Roy let us know that they didn't think he would make it much longer.

We (my Aunt Aleesa, Mom, Kirsten and my cousins Ruby and Anna) decided to stop by on our way home to see him for a bit.

I've seen my Grandma Ruby pretty sick, and thought she wouldn't live much longer and then she pulled through and it has been 6 years since that point.

I guess that is how I thought I would see my Grandpa Fred when we stopped in.

I thought he would be a little out of it, tired and would slowly turn his head to look at us as we walked in.

It wasn't like that...

at all.

It was dark in his room but there was a light near his bedside.

Not a lamp, or a candle.

A light.

He was silent when we first walked in and then when he realized, somehow that it was family he fought hard to try to communicate.

He looked transparent, pale and scared.

With this second stroke his throat has been paralyzed so he is not able to swallow. They had a patch on his neck that kept his glands from producing any secretions so that he wouldn't choke on his own saliva.

I had a patch like that after my hernia surgery that was supposed to keep me from being nauseous and sick post surgery. It helped with the nausea but my mouth was so dry that if I closed my mouth it all stuck together and felt like I was sucking on cotton balls. It was awful.

So as I watched my Grandpa cough and try to talk or anything at all with his mouth I understood how uncomfortable he was.

I started to panic for him just because I so vividly remembered that awful feeling.

And then I started to combine it with the thoughts of dying.

It was so hard to watch him as my mom took his hand and said, "Dad, this is Judy. I love you. Everything will be OK."

That's when my fear turned into tears.

I know that my grandpa has not always been the best and I even have held some resentment toward him for things he had done or said to my mom, things he had said to me and sometimes things he had done to others.

But, in that sweet moment when I saw my Grandpa's almost transparent eyes look to search for my mom's face and watched his hand twitch as he tried to hold hers every resentment or hard feeling I had for him washed away.

Suddenly I felt a voice telling me, "I need my Ruby." And I then blurted out to my Aunt and my mom that we needed to bring Grandma Ruby in and that Grandpa was scared. I felt it so strongly.

I cried really hard at that point, realizing the love that my Grandparents have for each other.

I can't even begin to tell you the many stories of the undying love my Grandma has for her "Freddie."

Her love and devotion is a beacon that should be seen for all the world to understand true love. Even when life was as hard as it could get she never, ever left his side.

In that moment, I truly realized that their love is true love. Devoted and eternal love.

He was scared to cross over into this next life by himself.

He needed her by his side.

Just like she has always been.

There was a few moments for whatever reason where I almost felt like I was alone with him and I leaned over, kissed his cheek, and told him who I was and that I love him. He was able to turn his head and look at me and it felt as if he looked deep into my soul and in that split second I felt as though he was saying sorry for any wrong he had done and telling me he loved me.

I wonder if that is what my mom felt when he looked at her.

We then went to Grandma's room to see if we could work out to bring her into his room and realized it just wasn't going to happen. We talked to her for a moment and sang a song to her. By this time, my Aunt Rosanne, Aunt Kathy, and Aunt Jane had joined us and it was touching singing to her in her room while she slept.

As we sang I looked at all the pictures hanging on her wall that some one had put together in a collage on two different posters.

Pictures of my grandparents in happier and healthier times.

Memories of sleeping over at their house, hearing Grandpa's stories, smelling Grandma's cooking, eating her home-canned peaches, remembering how her apron bubbled over he little pot belly stomach and wondering if she every went anywhere without her apron on, listening to my Grandpa laugh and helping him feed pigs and throw grain to the chickens. I even remember all the fun contests and races he would set up for us grandkids and the grin on his face as we succeeded. He was so proud of his kids and all their talents, still is.

Then we went back into Grandpa's room and were quickly reminded of his suffering.

I cried some more.




I think so.

I had never been near death before and I think it is actually more peaceful than I had ever thought.

They have given him 10 days to live.

There is nothing they can do for him.

I only hope that before he dies he can be with his Ruby, here in this life, one more time.

4 remarks:

Bonnie@TheFragileXFiles said...

I'm so sorry.... This is a beautiful post. You have such a wonderful family.

Mariah said...

some of my most tender moments in my life have been caring for someone near death or in the hours after they have past. I think it is one of the times heaven is the closest. Hugs.

Robert Simons said...

When I visited grandpa on fathers day, just as I was about to go, he reached out to shake my hand, and I shook his and he looked deep into my eyes, like he was so proud of me. I will always remember that, as I know you will remember these moments. Thanks for sharing. -RJ

Nana Betty said...

I'm your cousin Betty McMaster (Farol's daughter). I'm so sorry for your loss, and so glad that I could read your blog. It exactly stated some of the very same things that I have felt. It was very touching. You are a wonderful writer. Keep on writing...