This was one of those nasty days where it seemed like everything went wrong. My laptop died; it's sitting in a box waiting to be properly disposed of--thank you, Rachael, for giving me an alternative to backing over it with the car--and mom's computer has gone to be repaired because it's got problems of its own. Fortunately, we have an older machine that functions well enough to allow us to check e-mail and things like that; it works as a temporary measure and we'll keep it around in case some other technological disaster should occur.
In the meantime, though, I heard from dad today. It was not, however, a response to my threat over Easter to leave messages on his answering machine with me singing the "Easter Parade" song by Irving Berlin. That, I think, would have been less dire than what he did have to deal with over the past weekend. His father has been living in an assisted care facility among people who, like him, have enough mobility and their faculties are still functioning pretty well for them to get along without too much help. Over the weekend, Dad got a phonecall from his sister saying Grandpa was feeling dizzy and had been whisked to the hospital; long story made short, he was dehydrated and weak because he hasn't been eating or drinking properly for a few days.
Reason? The cancer they thought gone is back. It's not just back, but it's back explosively and spread to the rest of his organs in an alarmingly short period of time. Bottom line? Grandpa has six months. My response? I cried and told Dad that if he needs to talk, he's welcome to call. Grandpa has always been a peppery fellow with a pragmatic streak more than a mile wide. Dad said Grandpa's not in pain and is bearing up well; he's not resigned, but he's accepted the outcome. The hospital-or perhaps one of the familymembers--arranged for a minsiter to visit him to talk about dying. Grandpa, however, wanted none of the feel-good nonsense the minister offered; Dad said Grandpa had a thing or two to say to the minister about the subject of death and dying, and that made both of us chuckle.
I know this will be hard on them. It'll be hard on me, too, even though I haven't seen my grandparents for about 15 years or so. They moved to Arizona, which isn't exactly nextdoor, and I only saw them at holidays when they'd come to my aunt's house in Maryland. After Grandma's health declined through the Beast of Alzheimers, they moved back to North Dakota. Grandma died about two years ago.
When Grandpa moved into the assisted care facility, I sent him a hand knit sweater thinking he'd need it on those biting, bitter Dakota winters. He'll need it more now, and I'm glad he has it.