My birthday Thursday made me glad I did something unusual and memorable last year. This year I stayed home, and while I managed to stay out of bookstores (the insane orgy of the Borders bankruptcy still fresh on my credit card statement), food was again a highlight. Though not as good as Waffle House waffles, the Philly cheese steak sandwich and cheese fries I had for lunch at Philly's Best were mighty tasty. At that point, my day had not yet gone to shit. Well, relatively speaking, at least. One might argue that my decision not to go for a bike ride that morning probably denied me my best chance of doing something really fun, so maybe I was doomed from the start (my heart just hasn't been in it lately, but that is a topic for another day).
Anyway, I thought about my grandmother throughout the day, remembering how she called to wish me a happy birthday last year as I was driving west on Interstate 74 toward the place of my birth and lamenting that she would not -- could not -- call me this year.
Around 8:30 PM my dad called to say happy birthday but also to pass along a darker message. A few hours earlier, my aunt had discovered my grandfather lying barely conscious in a pool of blood, apparently having lost his balance and fallen on his kitchen floor. My mom was at the hospital, grandpa had blood on his brain, and his chances looked grim.
Though my grandparents wouldn't have approved of the language, my first thought was Fuck.
I think my grandpa has been doing really well in the three months since his lifelong partner died. His daughters and I have been going to his house every Friday to sort through my grandma's things (she had a lot of stuff!), so I've seen him regularly. Though he misses her, he seems to have a good attitude. One hears of so many longtime couples where the widow or widower dies shortly after the spouse out of grief, giving up on life, whatever, but grandpa didn't seem like he would. Although he has had some health issues over the past few years, his doctor told him he could live to 100 -- another 15 years (his mother made it to 98 or 99, so he has good genes, and he has taken good care of himself with activity and diet -- I don't think there's a vegetable in the world he doesn't like).
And then this happened. Fuck.
This Friday I visited grandpa not at his house but at the hospital. Frankly he looked terrible, lying there sedated with bandages, bruises, and tubes everywhere. We don't really know what's going to happen at this point. The doctors exude caution and uncertainty; it's too soon to tell. Presuming he lives (I gathered that the odds are better than 2:1 in his favor), we don't know how much brain damage there might be or how long it may take him to recover from his injuries or whether he'll ever live independently again (the last is doubtful -- he really needs someone around in case he falls again).
Why does shit like this have to happen? On my birthday or any other day? Fuck.
UPDATE 1:20 PM - Good news so far. Grandpa is awake and talking somewhat ahead of schedule.