Tuesday, April 10, 2007


My grandfather is dying. Existentially, we all are, but in his case its literal. He is 86 years old, and has been hospitalized numerous times for heart, kidney and diabetes problems. This past weekend his oxygen levels went low, so he was hospitalized. The doctor says in order for him to survive, he needs dialysis. For the second time, he has categorically refused. My grandmother says, as of this morning, he is getting weaker.

My role in this extended family has always been Devil's Advocate. This time is no different. For once, I had to side with the cantankerous old fart on this one. I wouldn't wish dialysis on my worst enemy, after seeing what John went through his last week with it. My grandfather might be a curmudgeon, but he is still of sound mind, if not body. If he doesn't want to do it, then he shouldn't. I have been trying to gently remind family members who are listening that dialysis would do no good anyway. He has let himself go far too long. He has made his bed health-wise, now its just a matter of time until he has his final rest in it.

I have always believed that it is very hard to grieve the death of an elderly person. They have had a full life, hopefully with few regrets. Will I grieve when my grandfather passes away? No, not for the man, but I will grieve for my grandmother, who will be alone for the first time in 59 years. I will grieve the lost lessons he could have taught me. I will morn the loss of the typical grandfather-granddaughter relationship I would have loved but he could not be bothered to have. Even if I could go to the hospital right now and offer my hand to him to try save our relationship, he would not accept it. So once again I will sit and wait it out with the rest of the family, and keep my thoughts to myself.