I began this "post" several years ago when my Grandpa Bobby was still with us, but failing fast. For a while there he was in and out of the hospital, and although pretty "with it" mentally, his body was beginning to give up the fight. He later passed away on October 1, 2009 at the age of 97.
My 95 year old grandpa dreams of fishing, how cool is that? My grandpa awoke in his hospital bed, on Easter weekend, and told us of his dream.
“I can remember the place I wanted to fish (the pier in Holland), the rod I wanted to use to catch those fish, and the bait I’d need…but when I wake up I realize it was all a dream. My daughters made me give up those rods long ago and my fishing license has probably expired, so when I do go again it will be like starting all over."
This thought occurs to him as lays in the hospital bed hooked up to an IV to give his body strength while we wait on word from recent tests to see which part of his failing body is the cause of his recent visit.
It's apparent to me that he won't be doing anymore fishing, ever, yet he talks like it is a real possibility. Like driving, or living on his own are also possibilities. He hasn't driven for years of course, we had to take away his keys and his vehicle long ago. He lives in a nursing home so we had to limit the amount of money he carries in his wallet as well. Something that makes him unhappy when he informs us that it is not enough money to buy anything, if he needs to go out.
He doesn't, of course, go out, nor could he. And he is wanting for nothing material, as my Aunt and my Mom make sure he gets what he needs, and more. But that is not the point, is it?
It must be so hard to give up that control.
What he is really asking for is, of course, control. Control over his brain, his memory, his body, his life. I don't think I ever realized what growing really old will be like, until I watched someone else struggle through it. Back in my high school years I spent a lot of time volunteering at nursing homes, and I saw physically what it did to a body and to a person's memory, but because I only knew those people when they were already old, it didn't sink in that one day this would happen to those I love. And I would see first hand the changes, the frustrations, the struggles they would go through. Since I knew my Grandpa when he was strong, healthy and full of life, I didn't realize this growing old process would make me feel so guilty for having to sit by and watch it happen to someone I love.
My grandpa was big on going to the dentist--a luxury not everyone saved money for in that day and age---but, he always did. It wasn't really a luxury in his eyes, it was a necessity. Always proud of his teeth, when it became apparent in the last year of his life that no amount of dental work was going to keep his teeth in his mouth, he had to have felt embarrassed. His teeth simply gave up the good fight, crumbled, broke and fell out. His strong legs which had carried him proudly for many many years to fish on that pier, also had stopped working like he wanted. They stopped supporting him like they'd always done. How can you not become frustrated when that happens to you?
I'm sure he still felt like they would do, could do, what he wanted, until he tried. Which he did, time and time again, he wouldn't ask for assistance, and time and time again he fell in the bathroom, out of bed, his legs would just give out.
It had to be so hard.
I fear it will be so hard for me when that time comes. I'd like to think that I will be a bit more resigned a bit more understanding that this is the way of life, and death. But then again, maybe I won't. Maybe some part of my brain will keep thinking that I can still do all the things I want to do. As if my sheer determination will make it happen.
After all, right now in life I am telling myself that I can do whatever I want, be whatever I want to be still. My daily mantra is that I can deal with change and have already been trying to deal with giving up some control.
Maybe we are just setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment. To belive that we can do anything we set our mind to. What part about aging---is fun? Nothing. But the end of life is out there waiting for all of us. Not being a huge procrastinator, I rarely think in the wish I would have or I should have..... being a realist probably gets me into more trouble. As in, wish I would have dared to try this, or wish I hadn't been too embarrassed to try that.
I'm working on training my mind to be open to all the possibilities sitting in front of me right now. Because I realize later, those possibilities will slowly be taken from me. My plan for the future, if I have any say in it, is to grow old gracefully. With very few wish-I-would-have's. And many many good memories to dream about.
When I think of all the things my Grandpa could have dreamed of at his age, I am really glad he dreamt of fishing.
Rest in peace Bobby. You are missed.