Got a call from my grandma on Friday. Grandpa is back in the hospital. He has a pretty advanced sore that’s refusing to heal on the sole of his foot, which is the result of what we’ve now learned is a 100% blockage in the particular artery that’s in charge of foot wounds. On top of that, his kidneys aren’t working properly, so they’ve got him on dialysis, and a whole mess of other tubes and so forth. I’m heading down to PA on Tuesday morning. Not sure in what shape I should expect to find him. He might pull through and get back to something resembling normal for an 82-year-old man. He might pull through, but continue declining over the course of a year or two. He might die within the month. None of us have any idea.
My very sweet grandmother Trudie died last summer, six days before she would have turned 84, which was a very rude sort of wake-up call to the fact that our loved ones are not immortal. I guess I’m more accepting of, or at least resigned to, the possibility that my sweet, endearingly cantankerous grandpa might not have much time left. But I can’t take any comfort in the whole “he’s old; he’s lived a rich and full life” litany. He is, and he has. He dropped out of high school in 10th grade and joined the Navy, where he was a radio operator on a decoy ship off Omaha Beach. (Yes, they were hit.) He was doing Hatha yoga in the ‘50s when nobody but Jack Kerouac and Co. were doing it. He got fired from teaching Sunday school around the same time when he told the kids that Moses climbing Mt. Ararat was an allegory for the elevation of one’s mind. I used to chase him around the pool table when I was little. He makes me laugh. He still lets me hug him and snuggle my head on his shoulder.
So, yeah. These are good things. But as one of my cousins pointed out at my grandmother’s wake, you can repeat over and over that the dead person has lived a rich and full life, and you don’t want to see them suffering, and all of that’s true, but losing a loved one, human, cat, rabbit, or whatever, just fucking sucks. And I know I’m jumping the gun. (Pun noted but not intended – Grandpa is a card-carrying member of the NRA, and he finds it amusing to send me lithographed NRA greeting cards, complete with pictures of deer. I am proud to say I now laugh my ass off when I receive one.) But I want to be as prepared as possible. And I don’t want to cry in front of him, because he hates that.
If he’s up for it, I think I’ll read him what I’ve written so far of the snail story (see sidebar for related Tweets, if you so desire). One of the nicest things he’s ever said to me was, “I like hearing how you think.” So I’ll give him that, and perhaps a cactus too. It suits us.
Belated and deep condolences to Dano on the passing of Lucky the Little Black Cat. I hope she’s faring well in Cat Heaven and that our beloved departed feline people are playing with her and sharing their freshly killed mice.