the wrong side of the bed

Friday, May 12, 2006

"you are giving dorotha such a gift."*

i'm in austin. my sister's cat just woke me up. i'm allergic, but Little One does not care. in the process of nudging me and snuggling me and otherwise trying to get my attention, he also bit my hand. i gave up on trying to sleep, even though i am very tired.

yesterday around 2pm, my grandfather died. it was a truly strange and amazing experience for me. my grandmother and aunt went home to let the dog out, and were to come right back. my sister had to give a presentation. my brother and uncle weren't in austin. only the hospice nurse and i were in the room with him while he was dying. my grandmother and aunt were gone for maybe 40 minutes or so, which turns out to have been exactly as far away as my parents were (driving in from houston). i held my grandfather's hand for the last 15 minutes he was alive. he started to breathe differently, more shallowly. the hospice nurse said, "these my be his last few breaths, come hold his hand." and i did. and then he kept breathing for 15 minutes. shallow, horrible, gasping breaths. at first i was crying and crying because it was such a strange experience and quite scary. but the hospice nurse kept saying, "let go, you can relax." and things like that. but my granddad was holding on. after awhile, i started laughing because it seemed like my granddad was stubbornly hanging on. he must have been pretty miserable. his lungs must have hurt (well, he did have a morphine drip, so maybe not). so i held his hand for 15 minutes, laughing and crying, and i smiled at my granddad for the last 5 minutes or so. i knew that my parents and my grandmother and aunt were just minutes away. i was scared that he would die while they were gone, moments before they came in the room. but, granddad waited. my grandmother, aunt, and mom walked into the room at the same time. i told them to hurry and hold his hand. my dad had stopped to find a bathroom. they held his hand and were telling him to relax, and that everything was fine, and that he was doing a good job. my dad finally came in the room. i told him to hurry and touch his dad somewhere. as soon as my dad came in the room, granddad let go of his last breath. it was very strange. everyone was still touching him and encouraging him (to breathe!), but he let go as soon as my dad was there. i could tell he had died because the vein in his neck that i had been watching became completely still. i looked over at the hospice nurse and she nodded at me and said, just to me, "he's dead." then she said for everyone to hear, "he's passed on now." and everyone stepped back. but, then, my mom and dad kissed him on the forehead. and my grandmother and aunt touched his hand again. we moved away from the body and hospice staff came in to poke and prod him. my grandmother said, "i don't think i need to see this." it was, weirdly, the first indication i really had that she was affected by his death. my grandmother is human.

we moved into the hall. we waited around. my grandmother began obsessing about funeral arrangements. eventually we left for the funeral parlor. we mostly waited around in there. my family was silly and morbid. my aunt said that she wanted to be buried with her winnie the pooh stuffed animal, but i thought it was unfair to bury him alive just because she died. later at my sister's house, we were discussing this again and my dad said that it was a bad idea because, if pooh got hungry, he might eat her corpse. these are definitely things to be concerned about.

* the hospice nurse said this to granddad at one point while he was dying. i thought to myself, "this is a gift i could really do without ever receiving again." it actually was much more peaceful than i thought, but, still, i don't want to repeat the experience anytime soon.
6:00 AM

3 Comments:

Hi.
Here's to peace in our time.
Love, Belle
Blogger Belle Reve, at 8:25 AM  
I am so glad you were there with him, and that everyone else got back in time to be there too. Enjoy your family.
Blogger Hazel, at 8:41 AM  
Its good that you made it back.
-and that your grandma is human.

don't bury pooh. there's nothing scarier than being buried alive.

i'll be thinking about you sweetie. let me know if you need a ride from the airport when you return.

-tlb
Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:23 PM  

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