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Fading

My grandfather s in the hospital at the moment. The smell and brightness of the place is suffocating.

My aunt and uncle are there too and we haven’t caught up since Christmas. So we talk too loud and too cheerfully to drown out the sound of his broken breathing. He is weaker after an operation on Monday.

Later on the others have gone and the three of us can’t take our eyes off him. His lips seem to have retreated back into his face, only moving now and then to curl up with pain. He is swallowed up by the big wheelchair and I almost smile, he is wearing huge aviator sunglasses because the light hurts.

We are there for hours and hours and his body is perfectly still. His face is perfectly smooth and soft with hardly a wrinkle. We’re all staring and trying to remember when he was tall and tan and strong.

There is a long minute where he slowly raises his hand and point his finger to my sister and beckons her over. He puts his hand over hers and she squeezes it, he gives this sad little sound. We talk to our grandmother about work and swooping magpies and any old shit.

Then he points to me and my sis and I change places. His hand is like crepe paper. He hooks his fingers round my thumb like newborn babies do. Before the Parkinsons he was never a touchy kind of guy. I want him to know how much I care. I grip a little tighter. His hand trembles but he squeezes back.

A little while later we have to head back but we don’t want to say goodbye. We all kiss him then hug my grandmother so tight. It feels so strange, she never hugged back so hard before.

We don’t know what’s going to happen next, how long this will continue. No one wants to speculate or think about it. There’s a heavier feeling this time. We leave the ward but turn back and go hug and kiss them again.

Out in the car park Mum starts to cry a little. But soon we’re driving and somebody says something funny and we dive into that conversation and stop thinking for awhile.

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


15 thoughts on “Fading

  1. Poor Shauny. My Grandfather is in hospital at the moment after a bad stroke, but he should be going home in a couple of weeks or so. he’s been there (in a rehabilitation center) for about a month. But I feel for you.

  2. I am very sorry to hear that Shauny. I remember my grandfather passed away while he was trying to say his last words to us on the phone. I was pretty traumatised by the whole experience at least for a few months … I still am actually. Take care, b.

  3. Hey Shauny, I read this entry and your previous entry about your grandfather. This line really struck a chord: “But you know what, I just don’t understand why there has to be a present for him anymore.”

    My grandpa passed away a couple of years ago after a long battle with cancer. I was there with him when he died and it was one of the hardest days of my life, but at the same time there was a feeling of relief, relief that it was over for him now. Earlier in the day I had talked to him (he was unconscious) and told him that, even though I was going to miss him. if he was ready to go we would be okay without him. I guess I am – but I still miss him on all those special occasions.

    Tahe Care, Mel.

  4. Shauny,

    It’s awful to have somebody you love sick in the hospital, I went through this last year with my dad. But at least you and your family are there for your grandparents, as I have seen so many people like your grandfather stuck in hospitals with no visitors at all. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

  5. Oh Shauna, I don’t know what to say. It must be completely heart-wrenching for you.

    Though he’s fading, he’s not abandoned and alone. He knows you love him.

  6. Ah, Shauny, it’s cruel isn’t it?

    i lost my brother and cousin in accidents over the last few years. i really don’t know if this lingering thing is any easier.

    One thing though, at least he will know how much he is loved.

  7. i’m okay with it all, guys (you all rock for being so kind here)… felt like deleting this coz now it sorta seems weird to write about it here. i hope it doesn’t read like i wanted you to feel sorry for me? i just feel so bad for my Poppy and feel a bit helpless and just kinda needed to vent at the time.

  8. Writing is the best therapy and someone who does it as well as you is wonderful. You always manage to find the right words for feelings that everyone has. I’m so glad I found this site and wish your family the best.

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