My grandfather’s youngest brother died Friday morning. It wasn’t a surprise.
My granduncle had a stroke last week, which led to the heart attack on Friday. But he had been… ‘damaged’ for a couple of years. He lost most of his vision three years ago, his hearing went last fall, he could barely walk, there were other heart problems.
Their oldest sister died a few months ago. So that’s it, my grandfather has outlived the family he was born into.
He was sad to hear about his brother’s passing, but not really surprised. He and his brother had their final phone call a few days ago, and they knew it was probably their last. They talked about golf for about an hour… my grandfather did all of the talking because my granduncle couldn’t speak at the time, but his oldest daughter was on the line, translating.
They played golf together until they were both into their 80’s, five years ago the Ottawa CTV affiliate sent out a reporter to cover the story of the two retired +80-year old brothers who played golf two or three times a week from May until October.
They were in competition with each other their entire lives. When they were kids they played on the same hockey team, and alternated leading their leagues in scoring every year. My granduncle flew bombers over Germany during WW2, my grandfather — who initially resisted conscription — was training to be a tail gunner when the war ended.
When he retired from the military, my granduncle was a major in the air force, and went to work for the government. During the 70’s he was working (Associate Deputy Minister of Finance?) for Trudeau’s Minister of Finance (who, I think, was John Turner), and then went on to work with the IMF, the World Bank and CIDA.
My grandfather, meanwhile, went to work in the private sector and spent every year of his life thereafter hating the IMF, the World Bank and CIDA.
I didn’t get to visit with my granduncle very often, but we always had great conversations and, of all of the elders in my family, he laughed the most. He spent a lot of his time away from his family, due to is overseas work, but managed to raise five daughters who are all mostly sane and successful.
My grandfather walked around the hospital ward on Friday. He had my mother with him, and he was using a special walker, but he made it all the way around without stopping.
He’s getting healthier, he’s eating, laughing more, he’s less… morbid about his chances of survival. I think some of it has to do with the doctors promising there will be no more invasive testing.
The doctors have ruled out cancer, and they can’t find any growths or lesions or whatever. So this week they’ll be moving him to the “rehab wing” of the hospital, where he’ll continue to get physio for his legs and all the attention from the nurses that he can absorb.
The problem is, he’s still incontinent — and they don’t know why — and now there’s a catheter involved. Which means, because he needs nearly-constant help getting changed, or getting in and out of the bath, the retirement home can’t accept him back. The hospital will allow him to stay there for up to three months, but after that either he’s living with us, or he’s in a nursing home.
And there just aren’t many nursing home spots available anywhere.
My grandfather is making plans for his return to the retirement home. He really misses his special chair (it’s plush and it has a remote so it can lift you out of it), and his LCD TV. But the doctor doesn’t see any chance of that happening.
little younger brother and his wife and child came up from Toronto for a day-visit on Thursday. My grandfather was excited to see all three of them, especially his youngest great-grandson, who is seven months younger than my son.
I’m going to see my grandfather tonight, hopefully the nurses will let my son in to see him. My grandfather really gets a kick out of being a great-grandfather. He keeps asking how long until the two great-grandkids start playing hockey.
Anyway… it’s really, really freaking hot. So I’m going to post this, head over to the splashpad and hang out with my girlfriend and our son. Maybe I’ll update it later.
We’ve been close to 40C (104F) everyday for a week now. It’s 37C right now… which is nuts.
So, if it’s hot where you are, and you’re taking Lithium, make sure you get your blood tested. Heat + Dehydration = increased risk for a Lithium overdose.
11pm UPDATE: My girlfriend and I took our son to visit my grandfather. My mother and grandmother were already there, so we didn’t stay long. Victor shared his chips with his great-grandfather — he just walked up to the bed, pulled out a chip, and held it out for my grandfather and said “…chip?”.
Which made my grandfather smile.
A few days ago, the president of the engineering firm my grandfather worked for showed up. They had been feuding since the company was sold for parts to a French firm back in the low 80’s. But his daughter, and my mother, conspired together to get the two of them in the same room together.
They spoke about the old days for a couple of hours.
My mother contacted the family of an engineer my grandfather hired back in the 70’s, and he showed up today. He brought some of his work books, which had photos of all my grandfathers friends and colleagues going back to the 1950’s.
That was in the morning, my grandfather was still crying when we got there this evening.
It was a good day for him.
That picture makes me smile. I hope the doctors can figure out and solve his incontinence problem so your grandfather can fool everyone and go back to his favorite chair and TV. That seems so little to ask for an aging senior citizen. (Make a note, however. When the time comes, I will also want my computer and Xbox.)
Thanks PT… I loved being around my grandfather and his brother. They had great stories, and loved to argue over the ‘private sector vs. public sector’ stuff. Actually, my granduncle and I were born on the same day, which is something I didn’t know until a few years ago. Which seems weird, you’d think someone would’ve mentioned that.
My grandfather and I were visiting with his youngest brother and, for some reason, it occurred to them that there were no photos of my granduncle and I together. So I think having them want a photo with me is why I’m smiling… plus the other stuff..
I screwed up the obit… so here’s what my granduncle actually did after WW2: he was “the Associate Deputy Minister (for Minister John Munro) for the Department of Labour (now Human Resources and Social Development Canada)… then he worked at the World Bank in Manila, then the IMF in Washington DC and finally he was in London, with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.”
I should also say… my grandfather is back in his retirement home, he has his chair, TV and he’s happier than I’ve seen him… possibly ever. I’ll post something when I wake up.
…when my time comes I fully expect there to be medals, some kind of marching band, and several naked people preparing my body for whatever comes after. And the latest Grand Theft Auto.