My grandfather, Papa, is not doing very well health wise. He is an awesome guy, always calm, always taking life with ease. His arteries are hardening, he is losing weight and he keeps falling. My grandmother is taking care of him with some help from friends and family but it is hard on her. They will have been married 57 years on August 11th. Her best friend’s health is slowly deteriorating and she has to watch it everyday.
We visited them a couple of weeks ago and plan to go out there in the next week or so. I don’t want to miss out on time with my grandfather. I learned a very important lesson a few years ago that I will never forget but regret immensely.
Damon’s mom died of cancer in August 2003. We knew in February that she was sick. Damon went and stayed with her as well as his great-aunt and great-uncle her were also in poor health. In August, Damon was back home in Tennessee and we got a call that his mom wasn’t doing well and that we needed to drive out to South Carolina as soon as possible. I was working at a shoe store at the time and was supposed to close. We got the call a few hours before closing time. I told my boss that I would stay until the end of the shift even though she said it was okay to leave early.
Damon picked me up from work and we drove through the night to South Carolina. When we parked the car, Damon’s mom’s boyfriend walked out to the car and told us that she had passed about an hour and a half before we got there. They didn’t want to call us while we were on the road because they didn’t want us driving while upset. The sky was still dark since it was really early in the morning. All I remember is crumbling to the ground, crying that I was so sorry, it was my fault we didn’t get there in time. Damon told me that it wasn’t my fault that we didn’t make it in time, but the coincidence in the amount of time was saddening; I could have left early. I still am regretful that I had my priorities in the wrong place. Family comes first and I always try to remember that in important moments.
It is hard to remember that though, there are so many other things in our lives that seem important. Some meeting at work that we think we can’t miss. Some sports tournament or other event. When it comes to our families, we have to remember that they are number one.
When Damon’s grandmother was put in the hospital, I made sure to remember the lesson I learned from his mom’s passing. We were in Nashville and his grandmother was in placed in a hospital about two hours away. I said, we will go whenever you want to. We went a short time later and we were able to spend some precious moments with her. She passed a short time after that due to complications from surgery.
With my grandfather, I don’t want to wait until it is too late to spend time with him. I guess it is fortunate that I’m on maternity leave right now and have a bit more flexibility that some of my family members. I am working from home, but I’m hoping that I can arrange my time so that I can go spend more time with him in the next week or two.
He told Damon at our last visit that he wished that all of the kids (meaning grandkids and great-grandkids) could be there. He was having such a good time with Liam. I’m trying to make it happen, but it looks like it isn’t going to come together. Everyone has different priorities or restrictions on their time. I don’t know what their lives are like right now, so I’m trying not to judge their decisions. We each have to do what feels right for us and our families.
I don’t want to live my life regretting. Keep my grandfather and grandmother in your prayers and pray that my family members either make the time or get the time to go visit him too.