There will be some of you for whom this post will hit very close, and I'm sorry for it, but here goes:
Just as I reached the stop sign at the bottom of our hill this morning, I got a call from Beve. And because I was stopped, I answered. The result of that call changed the direction I'd turn the car, but the whole day. Beve had just gotten off the phone with the Skilled Nursing Facility where Grampie lives. The news wasn't good. Grampie was unresponsive this morning, his vital signs all over the place, his breathing catching and holding for long gaps of time. She told Beve she thought the end was near.
As I said, I turned right rather than left, raced over to pick up Beve and we got to the nursing facility about 20 minutes later. By then, we'd talked about communicating with family, changing weekend plans, finances, locations for a memorial service--all the business one does to keep from having to face what is really ahead. Finally we talked emotions. He said he felt sick to his stomach, I said I felt like my whole skin was tingling. We got there, rode up in the elevator, standing across from each other, gripping the handicap railings like we were each in danger of falling ourselves. We'd run out of things to say.
Then we walked down the hall, rounded the corner and coming toward us was
Grampie in his wheelchair, on his way to lunch.
Yep, revived all by himself. Rebecca, the charge nurse hurried down the hall toward us to explain when she saw our obviously dumbfounded, jaws on the floor, expressions. His vital signs still aren't great, he probably had another small stroke, and is likely in danger for a larger one at any time. However, once he came to, they couldn't keep him in bed, he was flailing so much. He was very confused and quiet when we saw him, though. More than ever. He had no idea how to eat his own lunch so I fed him (even the canned peas, which is about as sacrificial a love as you can get from me without putting mayonnaise on them!). He barely said a word, didn't finish his food and didn't want us to stick around.
Today was not that day we've been dreading and waiting for. But it was a harbinger of it. That day gets closer and closer. I told Beve as I dropped him back off at school finally (just about the time the last bell rang) that in a way, he won't really remember the dad of his life until he dies. Until then, he's too busy caring for this dad with dementia. It covers everything, just the way fog does, so one can't quite see the real terrain, of history...even if you know it's there. I remember that with my mom. For Beve, it'll be a sweeter grief, of course. Sweeter and harder all at once.
But the sweetest thing, I know he'd say, is that today is not that day.