It seems so dishonoring.
Needless to say, it was hard to visit him in that place.
I remember one day going to see him, I hadn't visited for some time and felt bad about it, he wasn't really "with it" that day but I apologized any way. I'll never forget his heavy eyebrows struggling to lift up high enough so that he could focus his watery blue eyes on me and he mumbles, "It's okay...I wouldn't want to visit me either."
I guess we don't want to visit those places because we don't want to remember our loved ones in that way.
I said this to myself more than once.
Honestly, I didn't visit him nearly enough.
But I'm so grateful for those times that I did go.
Sometimes I talked to him or held his hand. Sometimes I just sat with him quietly. One time the kids and I visited and we wheeled him around the halls and fed him dinner.
It was a mixture of sad-joy on those days there.
And yes, true enough, I'll remember him like that...losing his mind and functions to Parkinson's, but I'll also remember him with that crazy mask on up at Lundy Lake scaring the bejeebers out of Grandma or running out in the middle of one of those High Sierra thunderstorms like a man possessed shouting at the sky...like he was gonna fist fight with a storm.
But the best part I'll remember about my Grandpa was that he was always on my side.
It sounds weird but that's the only way I can explain it.
He was for me.
He was proud of me.
He believed in me.
I don't know why. I wasn't separate or special or his favorite or anything. I was not an easy kid. But, Grandpa always made me feel loved when I needed it the most. And that alone made me want to be better and to do my best.
So when mom called the other night to say that he was "getting close" I went over to see him, alive, one last time.
He was struggling with every breath. The nurse was doing her best to make him comfortable.
He was far from it.
She told me I could swab his mouth if he looked thirsty.
He looked more than thirsty but I did it anyway.
I got really close to his ear and told him, "Thank You."
I kissed him and I cried.
I said "Goodbye."
I said, "I love you."
Mom called last night to tell me that he was gone. And I thought I would be more prepared for it because I knew it was going to happen. I wanted it to happen. But when it all comes down to it, I feel just like I did for every other goodbye I've said over the past two years.
I mean, I know that our Hope is in Heaven, but today I'm here on an earth and I feel far away and full to the brim with way too many goodbyes.
It's by faith alone I will trust and pray,
"Now unto Him Who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless before the glory of His presence with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
be glory and majesty,
dominion and power,
both now and forever.
Jude 24 & 25