Jun 20, 2011

Father's Day

So I spent Father's Day with both of my Grandpa's.
One recalled a story of how on my first birthday, I immediately reacted to the icing on my cake with a severe allergic reaction. We had celebrated the first birthday of a great grandchild the night before, apparently Grandpa watched with fear as I fed him icing - worried that the same result would occur.

We drove up to visit my other Grandpa, the Alzheimer's diagnosis fresh in everyone's mind. Even attempts to make light of the situation were feeble and adequately awkward, nobody is really sure just what to do with this news. My grandpa tried to high five me good-bye. So we did, and then we hugged, and then I taught him to fist bump and fly away...

Now that we know the news, we notice the differences, the subtle changes in his speech, how he lacks the correct words, forgets what is suitable for the situation. It is heart breaking. My heart aches.

I have no idea what to say to my father, I have no words for consolation. I fear that with no cure, he will face this diagnosis in later life too.

Caregivers let their health suffer when caring for someone, my Grandma has Multiple Sclerosis. Grandpa has been in charge of administering her morning needles, soon he won't be able to do that. I am concerned she will relapse. I don't think she should be caring for him at all right now. I don't think they should be separated, or need to be in care, but I think having respite or home-care would make the situation better for all involved.

Jun 5, 2011

car rides.
dinner time.
improving our golf game.
ice cream.
apple crisp.
birthday cakes.
christmas time.
family reunions.

When my brother was younger he was diagnosed with cancer, I was young, the eldest child at the time. My family struggled with coping, I spent much of my time living with my grandparents. I have a close relationship with both sets of grandparents, probably closer then I am with either parent, we don't always let things go. Parents were busy, treatments, chemotherapy, a sick child...

I spent my days in hiding, climbing to the top bed of their trailer, peering out through the window... watching. We would go for evening walks, they would tape television shows that they thought I would like, they pried to get me out of my shell, to stop hiding, to end my literal physical 'retreat'. Living by the golf course I got lessons in this game, I got the neon coloured golf balls, opportunities to drive the cart, and dessert with every meal time.

I think of the wedding I imagine I will have one day, of the children I want to have, and then I am stunned and saddened with thoughts of how he will not be there to share these moments with me. I think of how just last week I was adamantly refusing to participate in my University convocation, and right now - all I can think is... I would be so lucky if my grandfather could attend. I would be so proud if he could be there, if he was coherent when there. How badly I want him to be there, to share that moment with him.
I think of all the memories, I think of the first fish I caught, the first time I hit my golf ball into the woods and lost it, I think of my first love. I think of camping and family, and bbq's and canoeing down the river. I think of a man I have always respected, always admired. Someone who's hand I've held when he has been in the hospital, dealing with heart issues... thinking for years that, ultimately it would be his heart that took him from me.

No. Not cancer, not a stroke, not a heart attack, those are all too easy. Take Alzheimer's, take the person I know, the qualities I love, the memories they have, all the moments we've shared over our lifetime. I think of how he gives my grandmother who has MS shots every morning, how he has been doing that for years, caring for her, and now it is her turn to watch and care for him.

I think of how I am not ready to say good bye at all, how I want so much more time with him. How somehow I know even if we were given till the end of time, it wouldn't be enough. How much it will hurt when he is still with us, but has already left.
I think of this disease, how it took his sister, how I am scared that it will take my father. How I am scared it may take my uncles, how I fear it may affect my siblings or me.
It hurts.