When Words are Not Enough
Over the pasts few days I have learned the meaning of that phrase. My grandfather died last night. He was actually my step-grandfather, but I have a hard time using words to explain what he meant to me. When my biological grandfather died, Grandma married a wonderful man. I was five when she remarried, so I always thought of him as my grandfather. He was diagnosed with lung cancer, and after a long hard road (during which he never once complained), he died when I was 15. I was heartbroken and still miss him to this day. None of us thought Grandma would be lucky enough to find love once again, but she did, and the day she married Bob, I gave him a hug and told him “Congratulations, Grandpa.” And I meant it. I saw how happy he made my grandmother, and I wanted to make him part of the family. Bob was a man of few words (although any man who is with my grandmother will never get a chance to say more than a few words!), and I’m sad to say I never knew much about him. But I do know that he made my grandmother very happy and a better person, and she would do it all the same again if she had the chance.
Words can’t describe my day yesterday. Everything was a completely new experience. This is the first time I’ve dealt with a death in the family since I became an adult, and it’s very different. I spent the day at my grandmother’s house; waiting for the inevitable. When I first walked into the bedroom where he was, I was apprehensive. I knew when Grandma agreed to my coming over instead of putting up a fight on the phone that it was going to be bad. He was lying in bed, unable to even squeeze my hand. He had lost so much weight he looked like a skeleton. Two hospice nurses were there when I arrived, but once I got there, they said, “Well, now that your granddaughter is here, we’ll leave.” THAT was a little nerve-wracking. I don’t know the first thing about situations like this! But leave they did, and I figured the best I could do was be there for him and my grandmother. I sat in the room and held his hand – another situation where words aren’t enough!! I know that hearing is the last thing to go, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. I just sat there with him, and that seemed like enough.
After awhile, a friend of my grandmother’s came over; she was such a Godsend! She’s a hospice nurse but came as a friend. She really helped us understand what was going on with his body and was very reassuring. Bob’s daughter, 2 granddaughters, and sister came in the afternoon. I spent most of my time running errands, doing housework, cooking, and answering their questions. I left that evening after my parents arrived. Before I left, my grandmother and I went into the bedroom so I could say goodbye to him. At this point his eyes were closed and his breathing was getting shallower. I felt so many things at once – I felt sorry for myself, that I would be losing yet another grandfather. I felt pain for my grandmother, who was about to be widowed for the third time. She is one of the strongest people I know, never taking time to think about herself, always taking care of others. I felt sorry that Bob got sick before he was able to travel everywhere he wanted to go. I just looked at him and knew that at this point it would be better for him to go, to be free of pain. I squeezed his hand one last time, kissed the top of his head, and said nothing. It wasn’t necessary. He died several hours later.
At this point, I’m a little numb. Right after I heard the news, I started making muffins. Not sure what that’s about, but I felt the need to do something, anything. Mostly I just want to be there for my grandmother. We’ll be taking it one day at a time – I appreciate your thoughts and prayers!