Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm Gonna Miss...

Grandpa's health has been getting fairly steadily worse, and recently, steady has turned to quick.

Tuesday the fourth we found out that the cancer that the urologist had suspected, and Grandpa had refused a biopsy for, in his prostate, had spread. To his liver, and lungs. By then half of his left lung was already tumor, with masses apparent in the right lung as well. That explained the poor breathing that the clinic doc had sent him to the hospital for, under the diagnosis of pneumonia. He had that too, but not near as bad as they thought.

Grandpa decided against treatment, and since then, has been waiting.

Today, I came to my grandpa's, for a meeting with the Hospice nurse. My aunts and one of my uncles were here, as was my cousin C. Shortly after I got here, Grandpa fell, for the fifth time in the last two days. C was in the room, and missed catching him by inches. C immediately started kicking himself over the fall, and he and I had to have a talk about stubborn old men, reaction times, and plain old bad luck.

After that, we got to talking about our memories, and the great times we had with Grandpa. It was the kind of conversation you wish you could have without the underlying sadness, and it made me think of all the things I'll miss, when Grandpa is gone. Which, honestly, shouldn't be long now.

I'm gonna miss playing pool in the basement. I've never been a great player, but what I know, Grandpa taught me in his basement. I even had my own, shortened cue. It's still down there. I looked. To this day I can't look down a cue without hearing Grandpa's voice in my ear, telling me to put a little English on it.

I'm gonna miss days on the lake. That man was a hell of a water skier, and a genius with the water sled. He also had the whitest chest and legs of anyone I've ever seen. How he kept from burning to a crisp every time he took his shirt off is beyond me.

I'm gonna miss our evergreen clubhouse, in the windrow of spruces by the road. When we were kids, all us kids would hide in there when it was time to go home.

I'm gonna miss laying coins on the railroad tracks, and seeing which ones came out the thinnest.

I'm gonna miss the way he would growl when we did something wrong, and then go right back to spoiling us rotten.

I do miss going on the mail route with him. He retired from carrying mail a few years ago, but I still vividly remember going out with him to deliver the mail. It was always exciting, especially since he always had his stash of candy and snacks in the pickup.

I'm gonna miss the stories about growing up on his family's farm, and his favorite "horse tales" that he always shares with me when we're talking about the ponies.

I'm gonna miss the stories about Korea, and the service he gave to his country.

I'm gonna miss the way his eyes twinkle when he's being gruff but doesn't really mean it, and the laugh that always follows after.

I'm gonna miss the squabbles we have, and the talks about books. The way his eyes always light up when I talk about my classes, and the pride I can see there when he asks about my grades.

I'm gonna miss the man who always fed the animals outside his back door, even the cat that ate more than he did.

I'm gonna miss the advice, the life lessons, the laughter and the hugs.

These are just a very few of the things that I'm going to miss about the man in the next room, lying on a hospice bed. I remember him, not young, but vital, always vital. Now, his cheeks are sunken and his physical strength is waning, and all that I can hope for is a peaceful end, for him, and for us.