Friday is usally the day I list my five favorite moments of the week, or maybe just my five favorites of SOMETHING of the week. Today is going to be a little different. I’ve written before about my mom’s passing early this year [here] thanks to a sudden case of liver cancer (sudden is really the best word I can think of to describe it other than a few choice 4 letter words). Death is not an easy thing to see in a loved one. When I went to visit my mom a few weeks before she left us, just being there was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. As you well know if you’ve read my archived posts, I am not one for facing my problems head on. I’m much more apt to hide them back in a little brain compartment to be thought of another day and focus on something better. So just being in my mom’s condo during that long weekend and not escaping on long walks or to sit contemplatively at the pool was a feat in itself. Watching THAT disease take its toll on my mom was so difficult…the weight loss, the mood swings, her almost constant state of confusion and frustration. I hurt so much for her and felt so helpless to do anything but bring her Diet Cola (NOT Coke, NOT Pepsi…COLA).
I recently received a call from my aunt telling me my grandfather was in a nursing home and would be admitted to hospice care this week. I knew my grandparents hadn’t been doing as well as previously, but hadn’t known about their recent significant decline. My grandma has dementia and easily forgets even the simplest things like if she ate or took her medicine. My grandpa has his own bevy of medical problems including a former bout with Bell’s Palsy which paralyzed the muscles in the right side of his face. Right now he weighs maybe about 85-90 lbs because he doesn’t want to eat, likely because he’s in a lot of pain. He is confused easily and because he is not one to complain, he doesn’t tell the nurses when he needs pain medication. I went to visit him today and was actually there while a hospice nurse evaluated him to see if he would be if the program would be appropriate for him. Luckily this means he will have more specialized care and one-on-one time with an aid. Hopefully it means he will be able to get the medication he needs to take away his pain and even more hopefully, this will bring his appetite back. He’s constantly in my thoughts and brings everything back from my mom’s illness.
So I thought today would be a great day to honor him and list 5 things that will always make me think of my Pop-pop.
1. London broil – Whenever we ate at my grandparent’s house when I was little (which was a decent amount), we would have London broil & mashed potatoes. I never really like red meat, but my grandpa did. And he kicked it really well! (I think? I don’t have much to base it off as I’m not really a steak eater) Just like my dad, I would always go for the darker pieces. I’ll forever associate this cut of meat with family dinners around my grandparent’s dining room table.
2. Deer – My grandfather used to look out the window ALL THE TIME. My grandparents lived in a house set pretty far back in the woods on Lake Hopatcong. We used to walk down to the dock all the time when we were there, to fish or just to sit there on the dock. My grandma would take us fishing for sunnies often. I remember looking for our dogs through the woods once or twice when my mom lived there as well. But because they lived in such a wooded neighborhood, there were deer all over the place and directly across my the picture windows in my grandparent’s house was a big pile of boulders set into the hill. Deer would always be up there & and my grandpa could stare out there very 5 minutes if he wanted to. I always thought of the deer as his kind of pets, like by watching them he was somehow taking care of them.
3. MASH – My grandpa loved the show MASH and we used to buy him sets of the show for his birthday or Christmas. When I briefly lived in their house, I remember them watching game shows all the time as well and when the Family Feud game craze hit Facebook (and especially my then boyfriend) I always laughed that everyone was playing this game my grandpa always watched.
4. Someone quiet. My grandfather was not a man of many words, but when he spoke to me he always had a half smile and a teasing hint to his voice and eyes. I always knew he was happy when we were around and he seemed content to just sit in his chair and watch the festivities.
5. His aftershave? He had a distinct scent (like so many of us do) and it wasn’t bad of course. I think it was aftershave and whenever he kissed my cheek hello or goodbye, I’d feel his scratchy stubble and smell his smell. I honestly couldn’t describe it, but if I smelled it, I’d know.