It is hard for Husband to see his father slowly hollow out, to see his father’s ties to this world growing thinner, more threadbare. It is hard because Husband loves his Dad, and doesn’t want him to also die, especially now that both his sister and his mother are gone. It is hard because he shares his dad’s genetics, so watching his father decline brings whispers of his own mortality. It is hard because they have a lifetime of shared history. Challenges of today can sometimes swirl with challenges of a lifetime, so that Dad-Son interactions are at times more complex than those that would naturally arise from the situation currently at hand.
I don’t find caring for Grandpa hard at all. I mean of course I find it hard – caring for Grandpa can absorb hours of my time each week and can require intense patience. I have also had to get over the physical yuck-factor. As Grandpa’s health has declined, he has needed more and more assistance with his daily physical functions.
What I meant about it not being hard is that, for me, Grandpa’s quintessential nature, his fundamental integrity hasn’t changed, even though his confusion is constantly deepening. He is still the man with whom I debated politics, grocery shopped, shared a last cup of tea before we all went off to bed. He’s still the man who always made me feel that his home was my home. Now what I want most is that my home can be his.
I know Grandpa’s dying. I don’t know how quickly Grandpa will die, but I see the steady erosion. Grandpa was a good man. Grandpa deserves a good death after having lived such a responsible, productive, upstanding life. To me, a good death means you travel that journey with people you love.