Tuesdays with Morrie

I’m drinking tea again, Lipton tea bag.  No milk.  No sugar.  Straight tea with relaxing, hot water.  I dunk it slowly at first, to watch the dark brown slowly take over the clear water like a whirlwind.  Just like that, my clear water looks like a rustic color.  Tea is pretty tasteless.  I love water, and I know it’s funny for me to say tea is tasteless knowing water has no taste at all.  I still make a sour face and squirm with each sip, but I’m really trying to love it because ever since I started drinking it every morning I’ve felt more at ease.

I’m at work but I wish I brought the book that I’m currently reading to catch up on downtime, Tuesdays with Morrie.  Mitch Albom is a great author, I’ve read ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’ and watched the movie.  Great book and movie, both actually made me cry.  Mitch Albom is a great author because he deals with reality.

Tea, reading, and the gym have been my GO-TO’s lately.  The three factors have been working as a team, lifting me in better spirits, and seems to have melted away some pressure or stress I felt like I was walking around with.

I banged out 100 pages my first night reading it, I could have gone further but I’m trying to have some balance and discipline.  Tea every morning.  Gym every night, and a reading to follow.  The book is on a powerful level, it talks about a lot of things that people don’t realize they’re living with.  Life and love, that is the book’s main pinpoints.  Life: about the living, and the dying, and the dead.  Love: to learn how to receive it, and to learn how to give it more gracefully than you received it.

But it makes me wonder what knowing you’re dying must feel like.. All I know is the pain of watching someone die.

Morrie, in the book, is suffering and slowly, or even quickly, dying of ALS disease. But he is filled with so much wisdom, and love.  He knows everything that you’re unsure of about life and love.  He does not mistake “dying” with “useless”.

When you’re dying it’s like you’re already dead, and there’s only so many ways you can feel alive.  Bleeding is the only way you know you’re still alive, right?  I would say breathing, but even that becomes a struggle, doesn’t it?

In 2011 my grandfather, my mom’s father, started withering away.  No thanks to Brain, Lung, and Colon Cancer.  My sweet, stubborn, powerful Portuguese grandfather survived by his lovely ladies: my grandmother, my mother and aunt, and his grandchildren (3 granddaughters, 2 grandsons, 1 great-grandson).

My grandmother almost never slept.  Mentally, emotionally, and even physically she became almost as weak as him.  What was she going to do without him?  He’s everything to her.  As she was to him. 50+ years of love.

He began losing his damn mind.  Most of my childhood was spent in the Cape Cod in MA at a camp ground where my grandparent’s had a RV for as long as I can remember, and my grandfather’s Portuguese club.  Those were his homes away from home.  When he started losing his mind, he thought his address was the Cape and his phone number was the number to the Club.  That’s how you knew where his favorite places on Earth were.  Quickly, not even gradually, he became skinnier and skinnier, I could wrap both of my hands around his thigh.  Went from hair, to no hair and always wore a hat to cover it up.  We all took turns, “shifts”, of taking care of my grandfather when Hospice Care wasn’t there.  The nights were the worst.  He would not sleep.  It’s almost like he was unaware that he can’t function anymore.  But he still always got up and walked around.  We always freaked out, because he can’t handle walking by himself at that point anymore.

We would walk for him.  Whenever he wanted to get up or sit down then we would scoop him up from his underarms, face to face, and help him.  Lifting all his weight, all his dead weight, with no support from him.  It was tough, but knowing you had to it was enough to give you the strength.  It was tough, watching someone so close to your heart die even while he was still alive, barely.  Had to watch him in the bathroom.  Had to feed him.  Sometimes he demanded to be outside, and even though that’s not really recommended for people with cancer, we had to grant his wish.  So, for a short period of time we would place a chair on the porch and allow him to sit for a few minutes, under supervision, of course.

One day he was watching tv with my mom, the news. All the skin melted off of my grandfather’s face so now it seemed like he had bigger eyes.  But when he got surprised, they really widened and it was almost cute to seem him like that, surprised, eyes wide.  But under the circumstances, it was sad.  So while watching the news, the camera-man zoomed up on the news guy, and my grandfather started freaking out!  Telling the guy to go away!  That’s how my grandfather’s mind was now.

On my 17th birthday (November), I spent hours with him in the hospital.  He was excited because he thought it was his birthday instead.  His birthday is in May, I believe. There was no telling him any different, although I tried.  I tried so hard to make him remember that I’m his granddaughter and I knew with all my heavy heart, that he had forgotten me.

It’s December now.  Time went by slowly, but the days seemed to fly.  If that makes any sense. Before I knew it, my grandfather was weezing, searching for any breath, any breath at all to not make it his last.

My mom, sister, Hospice nurse and I were in the kitchen talking about coping, and that he is soon to go.

All of a sudden, we heard my grandmother wailing out in tears, screaming.

This horrible sound of my grandfather trying to breath.  Thinking back, and remembering that sound brings tears to my eyes.  It was such a scary sound.  He was losing all his oxygen that he possibly had left.

It was my grandmother, by his side holding his hand.  My mother.  My sister.  My cousin.  My mother ended up walking out of the room, to not witness her father die.  My aunt had just left the house before he was passing away, we called her as soon as we heard my grandmother scream out and she turned right around.  We knew what was happening, before we even ran to the room we said he was dying.

As soon as my aunt returned back to the house and entered the room, my grandfather took his last breath.  Hospice always did say that they die in peace knowing the ones they love surround them.

It was breathtaking (no pun-intended) so how fast his skin turned yellow, making it obvious that he had died.

When did his soul leave?  Was it when he died, or was it gone long ago?

Wasting no time, the guys from the funeral home came to put my grandfather’s body in a body bag.

Carried out right before my eyes.

 

 

A.

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