Just a brief warning: yesterday was a very hard day for me. I went to visit my grandparents and my grandfather is not doing well. I need an outlet for what is mulling around in my head. This is my outlet. If you are a family member this may not be an easy post to read. It's not been an easy one to write. But it's something I need to do for me. Thank you.
Grandma M&M called me Saturday afternoon. She had called Husband during the week to wish him a happy birthday but was worried that she'd interrupted his nap. She hadn't. It wouldn't have matter if she had. Grandma calls on birthdays. That's just what she does. And we expect her call. We love her call.
While we were chatting she told me that Grandpa was having a really bad day. A few years ago he had a small stroke that made it very difficult for him to swallow. After PT he was able to handle soft foods but he's never been able to tear into a cheeseburger since. This week things got worse and he has been switched over to thickened liquids. His breakfast, lunch, and dinner all come through a straw. He doesn't like that. Who would. He wasn't "eating" as much as he should have and therefore was losing the little bit of strength he had left. Grandma said he'd slept all day Saturday while she sat with him.
I got off the phone with her and cried. There was nothing else to do.
Husband saw me break down and he waited for me to compose myself enough to explain. The next words out of his mouth were, "Do you want to skip church tomorrow and go see them? We can do that."
We arranged for the kids to stay here with his family so we could make the trip in peace. I took them to see Grandma and Grandpa back in July and seeing Grandpa really scared B.B. He was afraid Grandpa was going to die while we were there with him.
Husband and I took Grandma to lunch when we got there then came back to her apartment to sit down for a bit. When she thought the time was right we headed over to visit with Grandpa. Every time I've been to see him I've prepared myself for the worst. It's never been as bad as I imagined. He's always known who I was. He's always responded to me as much as he could. He's spoken a few words. He's turned his head to see me. He's been happy that we were there.
Yesterday was different.
We have no idea what is going on in his mind because he doesn't say more than a few words at a time but yesterday I felt as though he didn't know me. It breaks my heart to admit that but I truly didn't see any recognition when he looked at me. I had to put myself in his line of sight and talk to him but I didn't get any sort of response from him. I know that's happened to others in our family but this was my first experience with it. It was hard.
I held his hand. I patted his knee. I adjusted his elbow pads. Husband told him about our new goats. We told him about the kids. We talked to him about things he would find interesting. Mostly he slept.
He did kiss Grandma hello at her request and he told her he loved her after she said it to him. When the time came for us to leave I hugged him, kissed his cheek, and whispered, "I love you, Grandpa," in his ear. As I was standing back up I heard him whisper back, "I love you." I'm afraid they may be the last words I hear from my grandfather.
Dementia has many shades. I know that day to day things can be drastically different. I know that tomorrow may be a much better day for Grandpa. I know that he may be communicative. I know he may know exactly who everyone around him is. I know he may say a few words at a time. But I also know that the chances of that happening while I'm there are slim to none.
My Grandpa is fading away. It's a terribly difficult thing to watch. It's painful. It's ugly. It's sad. It wish it wasn't this way, but it is. All I can do is pray. Pray for comfort and peace and that Grandpa would be as comfortable as he can be in what will be his last days, weeks, or months. I'd appreciate it if you would pray too.