Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

My loving grandfather and his baby Sandra Sue
Wednesday, 12/19/12

What started out as a normal morning quickly changed to anything but normal.  Shortly after breakfast  mom called to say my grandfather Vic wasn't doing well and if I wanted to see him now would be the time to come.  I thanked God that I was home with Paisley and able to go immediately to my grandfathers side.  In the same breathe, I asked God not to take him until I was there with him.

While driving as safely and quickly as possible, I cried silent tears that his time was expiring.  I cried for the memories I had made with him and for all the people that love him.  I cried for my son who only got to know this amazing man for 16 months.  I cried as I pulled into the parking lot. knowing what the future held.

First I went to my grandmothers room to see if she was in her own room, which she was.  She was happy to see me and didn't realize the phone calls that had been made about her husband.  I sat Paisley on her lap and told her we were going to grandpa.  At this point she started asking questions, "What's going on," "Is something wrong?"  I simply told her we were going to be with grandpa.

We found him sitting in his wheelchair in a common area.  He was alert and was immediately happy to see his little bride.  They held hands and I stood there taking the sight of them in together.  He said he wanted to go "home." She replied "we don't have a home."  My grandfather never accepted/realized that the nursing home was his final resting place.  Maybe that was for the best.  I told him home was wherever his wife was.  That quieted him down temporarily.  It didn't take long for my mom, sister, and uncle to arrive.  At this point, my mom explained to grandma that grandpa was experiencing heart and kidney failure.  His feet were so swollen and liquid was seeping from them.  I had never seen that before and hope to never see it again.

Grandpa knew we were all there and even messed with little Paisley a bit.  He didn't seem to know what was going on, but would say he didn't feel good and wanted to lay down.  We got him to his bed and he immediately seemed more comfortable.  For a couple hours, we held vigil by his bedside, talking, holding his hand, and making sure he was comfortable as possible.  As dinner time rolled around, I needed to get P home for dinner.  It looked like Grandpa would survive the night, so off I headed with a heavy heart.
3 Generations 
Saturday, 12/22/12

As my phone rang at 5:30am I knew it wasn't a good thing.  My heart dropped as my mom said that grandpa had taken a turn for the worse and he wouldn't make it through the day.  I dressed quickly and left my boys sleeping in their bed.  I pulled into the lot the same time as mom and dad.  Together we headed in.  My sister and Greg had already arrived.  Grandpa was asleep and visibly wasn't breathing easy.  I needed him to know I was there, to know that whatever he was feeling or seeing, that his family was right there with him.  I rubbed his bony shoulder and whispered in his ear that we were there.  He squeezed mom's hand and I knew that he knew we were there.

We didn't want to wake grandma up and scare her, so we let her wake up on her own.  As she came too and realized that we were all there, she knew that something was happening.  With her eyes wide and mouth pulled in a tight line, she sat next to grandpa and held his hand.

The nurses were so compassionate towards us and I was so thankful to know that the last coherent moments of my grandfathers life included these loving, kind people.

We stepped away while they needed to clean grandpa up and then they told us that he was quickly fading and we needed to get back in there immediately.  We made it to his bedside, we whispered our good-byes.  His hands were held by his children and wife.  And like a whisper on a windy day, he was gone.  It was peaceful.  Quiet.  Painfully final.

We opened the window next to his bed to help his spirit find its way home.  My sister said a wonderful prayer over his body.  The tears came down but so did the occasional smile as we thought about all the family members that had passed before him, that were now embracing him.  My grandmother gave him a kiss good-bye.  We sat with the body for a few hours, making necessary phone calls and consoling grandma.  It was a rough day.  In a selfish way, I hated him being taken from us.  I wanted him here.  I wanted him like he used to be, strong, funny, busy from sun up to sun down.  The realistic part of me was glad he was in is final resting place.  He had said a few days ago that he was ready to go to Heaven.  As much as I wanted him back, it paled in comparison to how happy he was to be in Heaven.
His final Christmas on Earth 2011
Sunday, 12/23/12

It was a blessing that the funeral home was able to get us in so quick.  We didn't want a funeral hanging over our heads throughout Christmas.  We wanted him to be in his final resting spot on Christmas, not in an empty building, waiting on us, alone.

The showing was beautiful.  Grandpa looked like he was asleep in his recliner.  Red and white flowers adorned his beautiful wooden casket.  Grandma pulled her wheelchair as close to his casket as possible, and she sat there all day, only leaving his side when the restroom called her away.  Her round eyes took in every detail and she rarely shifted them away from his casket.  Family and friends poured in, and my heart was happy with the turnout.  Grandpa loved having his family together, and here we were, surrounding him.
Silly baby, silly grandpa
Monday, Christmas Eve

My grandpa loved Christmas Eve.  For years, all of his children and grandchildren would gather at his home on the hill and celebrate the birth of Christ.  There was always a house full, lots of good food, gifts, and he would finish the night by playing Christmas music on his harmonica.  The first Christmas Eve I lived in Wyoming and missed celebrating with my family, it was that moment, on the hill, with my grandfather playing Silent Night that I missed the most.

The funeral was beautiful.  Family members spoke and told stories of the man laid before us.  He was a good man.  He was a faithful and honest man.  He loved his family, gardening and fishing.  While listening to the words being spoken about my grandpa, my mind flashed various images in my mind.  Driving us to Florida in his van, I would sit on my moms lap in the passenger seat and listen to them talk (laws on child restraint seats weren't quite like they are now).  If there was a basketball game on the radio during the drive, we would listen to it.  He loved sports.  In the morning, he would be the first person awake and the sound of him eating cereal and clanging his spoon on the side of the bowl would echo throughout the condo.  After his breakfast, he would head downstairs to get a newspaper.  I would stand on the balcony and watch him walk across the parking lot, he'd look up and give us a wave.

My heart ached that someone that had been a permanent fixture in my life was now gone.  No more hugs, no more kisses.  No more hearing him say "Oh Gosh..." when he'd spill something or hearing him call Paisley  "corker."

His body has been laid to rest in the cemetery next to his son, Joe Dale.  His soul is without a doubt watching down on his family.  I know I'll see him again someday....but until then I'll miss his smile and kind nature.  I'll miss the way he loved his family.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace Logan Victor Smith.  Until we meet again...