Thursday, June 23, 2011


I must have noticed before that my grandfather has blue eyes. But I know I never looked into them as I have these past three weeks. Sometimes it seems he's looking right at me. Other times he seems to be looking somewhere beyond, perhaps over my shoulder or a million miles away. Mostly those eyes are closed or half open, looking at nothing.

I keep waiting -- praying -- for that light bulb moment when he will look directly at me, his eyes will light up, and he will say something to show us that he is unequivocally back in our presence. But these things take time and it's too early to tell. Still a voice deep inside me whispers a warning that this may it, that the occasional mumbled words or nonsensical sentence may be as much as he'll ever communicate again. Never in my life have I so wished to know the future.

Some nights I see those eyes in my dreams. On scarier nights it is as if those eyes are mine, looking out on a foggy and confusing world.

I've always had the habit of taking on the mannerisms of people I spend a lot of time with. Lately when I lay down to sleep, I catch myself letting out the faint groan of despair that I sometimes hear from my grandfather in his hospital bed.

There have been a handful of good days, times when he spoke clearly and even logically. But those days came early on, and lately his condition seems worse, no matter that the latest CT scan shows nothing negative.

I wrote the previous paragraphs yesterday when I still had hope. Tonight they tell me hope is gone. He's still alive but he won't get better. This time it's his heart, and it's time to let him go. If ever I could will someone to live, it would be him. But it doesn't work that way. Sometimes no amount of hoping or praying can delay the inevitable.

In a cruel coincidence, he originally fell on my birthday and today was my mom's birthday.

After Grandma died at the end of February, I did not expect to be contemplating another eulogy so soon. Grandpa wasn't moping around with a broken heart; he missed her but overall he was doing pretty well. He enjoyed sampling new restaurants that my notoriously finicky grandmother would never go to. A couple of months ago, he had a new set of tires installed on his car. In May, when we cleared away the dozens of planting pots Grandma left in the backyard, Grandpa said he looked forward to sitting out on the patio beneath a shady tree. Not long before his fall, he had someone come and clean his outdoor grill. He wasn't supposed to die now -- he had plans, damn it.

My grandfather is a great guy, one of the greatest I've ever met. He's kind and generous and funny. He worked hard and enjoys sharing his rewards. He loves to eat and loves to pay the bill for anyone who joins him. The world will be less sweet without him in it.

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