|Julia at a few months old visiting Grandpa in nursing home|
This is my Dad's dad and my very near and dear grandpa. He lived on Staten Island with his family for many years as a nurse at a hospital, and before he met my grandma he was in the service to our country.
When I was about 15 years old I got very close to both my grandparents. I would sleep over their house, bake for them, cook for them and write them letters all the time. Then when their health started failing my dad thought it wise to sell their home and move them closer to us in New Jersey. They lived in apartments and even though I was a teenager I still visited, took grandpa shopping, picked up medication and made meals for them.
Then Grandma's health got really bad and we had to put both of them in a nursing home in East Brunswick. Every Wednesday I would leave my teaching job and take time to bring them cookies and visit. Losing Grandma 6 years ago was very difficult for our family, and especially grandma. He called her mama and he told me all the time how much he missed her and still dreamt of her and even felt she would come to visit with him. I knew he was lonely. Even after I got married and started having kids I made every effort to visit grandpa. He loved seeing Julia as a baby and Julia was such a playful little girl.
Grandpa always made me feel loved and special. Whenever I visited he always perked up, sat up a little straighter, smiled, and would tell his roommate, "That's my grand daughter." I could feel the pride in his words and see it in his eyes. John used to shave my grandpa and grandpa loved John. He always would ask about John and the kids if they didn't come with me. I knew he was proud of us. I knew he appreciated us visiting. He always said, "I love you," and "thank you," and he would always eat whatever treat I would bring him, even if it was before dinner.
Once I had mark it became more difficult to visit grandpa weekly, but I still made sure we saw him on weekends, at least once a month and definitely on or before birthdays and holidays. I hated the idea of him spending so much time alone at the nursing home. I even thought of moving him in with us as newlyweds, but we had no other bedrooms in our townhouse except for an office and the master bedroom, plus we both worked full time and grandpa's eyesight was failing, so he really needed help all day.
After Grandma passed away, I really didn't think grandpa would live longer than a year. He loved her so much and I knew he missed her terribly, but then a year passed, two years, three years, and I thought, wow, God is so good to keep him with us. As his health got worse, and he became totally blind he was moved to another nursing home in Edison. I hated the new nursing home. It was far and also the people were much much worse off. I felt so depressed visiting him there. Grandpa spoke less, ate less, and just wasn't his natural self anymore. Every time my parents would text me to call them or left messages to call them I panicked, I always feared losing Grandpa. I knew it was always a possibility but I just never wanted to accept it or hear the words.
This past December is when I knew things had gotten worse. He barely talked or answered when we spoke to him, all his food was pureed, and he kept getting pneumonia and having mini strokes and was at the hospital. The last time I saw him, like always I told him I loved him, that we were praying for him, and that we would see him soon. I even made my peace with the whole death issue, after all he was almost 90, he had lived a long, full life, and he seemed to be suffering now. I wanted whatever God thought was best. But hearing the news last Thursday was just shocking and awful.
As much as you think you've made your "peace" about someone passing away, it never goes away, you never stop feeling or being sad. It's just this dull ache that comes to the surface when their name is brought up. It's horrible. The only solace I can find is knowing that God hates death too. That death was never in His plan. I know God has a plan for all of us and I just pray that my grandpa really knew we loved him. Because we really did. I really really really did love him. And I wish I could have told him one more time. I wish I could have held his hand and been there when he slipped out of this life. I wish he didn't have to spend so many lonely days just waiting around for visitors. I wish we all made the elderly more of a priority and not just a drop off at a nursing home.
There was so much to learn from Grandpa and hear about the war, about his life with three sons, about the love he had for grandma, and hear about how he used to play in a jazz band. He loved music so much. He loved black and white movies. He knew so many actors and actresses by name and he was such a romantic. He loved love stories. He was never embarrassed to tell me so. I'm thankful for all the time I spent with him although it was never enough. He made our lives very full. He brought us joy and we loved him. I'm so sorry to lose him. It's not fair.