Monday, October 12, 2009


After a typical whirlwind trip to my hometown this past weekend, we were driving back across the state with the early fall mist in the air and the lush evergreens of the Cascades sprinkled with the honey gold, deep rust, and vibrant pumpkin shade of other species. Jagged and towering peaks drifted in and out of the clouds, as did our vehicle with 2 bouncing children and a golden mountain of dog.

As we drove, we were listening to the usual hodge-podge of tunes, but one song seemed to stand out above all others. (due to my state of mind.) It was "Landslide" by Stevie Nicks. As she sang about the "Seasons of my life..." I felt that it was the perfect serenade after my weekend back home.

I went home this weekend to see my grandpa before he dies.

He has entered the winter of his life after many productive years.

Last week doctors assumed it would be days until my grandpa passed away. A UTI, Pneumonia, and refusing to eat or drink had left him unresponsive. This weekend, when I entered his new nursing home, I found him trying to stand up. As the nurses hustled to settle him safely back in bed, I had a moment of indecision - a moment of contemplation. I had never been in that position before and wanted to get it right. How should I act? What should I say? What would he even understand? For the best or not, I quickly decided to operate under the old cliche that life really does travel in a circle. Since grandpa is circling back to where he started almost 90 years ago, born to a plucky young lady and her preacher husband (a lovely love story for another time), he is weak, dependent, looking for comfort, touch, and his basic needs. He is not so much "reduced," as he is remembering. He is remembering how it is to be out of control of his own life. He is remembering how it is to be an infant. And if we all do our jobs as his loved ones - This shouldn't be a negative experience.

Thinking of how I nurtured my own infants, I sat by his bed and started to rub his arms. When he said his feet ached, I rubbed his feet and watched his eyes close in contentment. I leaned forward to understand his garbled speech, reminded him of his own thoughts when he became lost in a sentence, and reassured him of his own goodness and his safety in this new environment. I repeated myself often, ran my hands over his bald head, and tucked his blankets under his chin whenever they slipped. Just as I did with my children, I spoke of love and memories without embarrassment, completely cured of my usual shyness in poignant situations. The rest of the world melted away as I mothered my own grandfather. When it was time to leave, I convinced him to close his eyes and take a nap. As I leaned forward to kiss his forehead, he told me, "Thank you very much" and he placed a hand on my cheek. I like to think that for the time I was with him, my grandpa's world was as warm and golden as a beloved child's'. It's just a matter of time, after all, before he will meet his own parents again, and his brothers who have gone before him. I believe our job is to make sure he is comfortable until the day of that delightful reunion.

So as we travel through all the seasons of our life, from the time when we rely on the love and nurture of others to survive, to the times when we must provide the same to our own children, and then circle back again, I think a great and powerful beauty can be found in the sphere. As long as we all recognize our own part to play in the giving and receiving, no season should be without peace and loveliness.


Rebecca said...

What a beautiful post - and so very very true.

Saying good-bye is not easy, but you are so right that we must treat those who are moving on with dignity and love.

Praying for your family - knowing you will forever treasure the day you spend with your grandfather, I do.

Lacey said...

Wow, this was such a powerful post. And you handled the situation with your grandpa so well. This was beautiful. :-)

Sabina said...

This post touched my heart deeply. The tenderness and grace you showed speaks volumes about who you are. Thank you so much for sharing this. Just beautiful!!

Elle Bee said...

Oh my goodness, you brought me to tears. What a loving and sweet thing to do for your grandfather--just being there and showing such affection and warmth. Beautiful writing and beautiful thoughts.