Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I believe.....

(Originally written May 17, 2007.  Post has been updated to add more information as it was learned.)

My grandpa is 88 years old. He is in remarkable health. Up until a few years ago he still mowed yards for people/businesses in town. While mowing he broke vertebre in his back and had to stop mowing to rehabilitate.

My grandma, who had been in the nursing home for almost ten years, passed away in October of 2005. Although she was ten years younger than my grandpa, her life had been filled with pain.

My grandma and grandpa secretly got married in 1950. They ran off to Arkansas and when they came back to Missouri my grandma went back home to her parents, and grandpa back to his home, and both picked up business as usual. It was only when my great-uncle, my grandma's brother, who still lived at home, fell ill and my grandma's family needed help on the farm that my grandma told them that it would be "OK, she and Quentin were married and he would come and help them out".

Thus began their 55 year marriage. My grandpa will still tell you that in those 55 years they never had a fight, but it was hardly what you would consider wedded bliss.

Although I am sure that my knowledge is even somewhat limited, what I know is enough. My grandma was in and out of a mental hospital while my mom was growing up. Recently my mom has explained that grandma experienced constant itching all over her body and that,  combined with the constant trips to an allergy doctor located a state away, in Oklahoma, in hopes of finding an explanation, at times, drove her close to the edge, and caused her eventual admittance(s).  Dora, a close friend of the family, helped to raise my mom and her 2 brothers and a younger sister. My grandpa even then stayed close to my grandma's side.

She had what everyone believed to be a nervous condition. On more than one occasion she pleaded with the doctors to find out what was wrong with her. But they thought they already knew..... she was just crazy.

Dora told me personally the night of my grandma's visitation that she remembered as vividly as if it were yesterday, my grandma standing in her kitchen with her hands on her head saying "There is something growing in my head and I KNOW it."

The day she pleaded her case to a small-town country doctor was the day that the tables finally turned in my grandma's direction. Somebody finally believed her. He pulled some strings, made some calls, and sent her to St. Louis to have more tests done. This was a rarity in this day and time. Technology was limited, as were finances.

It was confirmed what my grandma had known all along. She had a brain tumor. Surgery would have to be done. I am sure that at the time it was anyone's guess as to how it would turn out. It was, after all, 1976. Things weren't as streamlined as they are today.

My mom, very pregnant with me, along with my father and the rest of the family went to St. Louis to wait for her to come out of surgery.

Although it wasn't talked about much I am sure that my grandma was in the highest spirits as she came out of surgery - regardless of the outlook.

That is just how she was.

My grandpa still says that in the 55 years that he spent with her, "she never complained about anything." These days THAT is the rarity. I know that I, myself, belly ache over the simplest of things, yet my grandma, misdiagnosed, put in a mental hospital and ultimately enduring brain surgery, never complained. In fact, the only things that I remember as a child that gave clues to the magnitude of her plight were the wigs that she still owned, the fact that she couldn't bend her head back to look up without blacking out, and that no matter how sad the situation, Grandma couldn't cry. She apparently was no longer able to.

No wonder they never fought. Who could fight with a woman such as that?

Especially when you were as much in love as they were.

Fast forward 18 years. Grandma started being less sure on her feet. At 67 years of age, she was still relatively young. She knew something wasn't right.

Tests revealed, once again, what she already knew. The brain tumor had returned and was growing. Even with time and technology on her side, the odds of the surgery being successful were slim to none.

She decided to embrace the time that she had left and enjoy as much of it as she could. She gradually began falling more, getting up in the middle of the night and stumbling with grandpa waking to find her where she had fallen.

The worry of it all was getting to him, physically making him sick.

She began to forget more and more.....and she became nearly impossible for grandpa to take care of. My grandma had said all along, "There are places that will take care of me when you can't, and I will not move in with my children and hinder their lives. Do not worry about it."

And she meant it.

She wasn't playing a pity card.

Grandpa's doctor finally told him straight up, "If you don't do something, you will end up in a hospital yourself, or worse. Then you wouldn't be able to be there for Pauline."

My mom told me once that the hardest thing she ever did was to break the news to grandma, along side her sister and grandpa, that grandpa was no longer able to care for her anymore and that she would be moving to the nursing home. Upon hearing these words, mom said that she patted their heads as they cried at her feet, and that she knew that if grandma were able, she would have cried too.

For a couple of years grandpa would get grandma and they would go places together, he'd take her out to eat, and some weekends she would come home and stay with him.

Over time, she worsened and didn't want to, as well as wasn't able to, leave the nursing home.

My grandpa went to see her almost every day. Many days he went more than once. He helped to feed her, give her drinks, and most of all, encouragement.

Since her passing in October of 2005, grandpa has been at a loss. He seems to have more free time in the day than he would like.....of course, missing the trips to the nursing home.

Some days he is up and going strong making it hard to believe that he is 88. Other days you can see a lifetime of emotion sneaking up on him......making him, and his steps, a little slower.

A couple of months ago he told my mom something I knew he thought that she wouldn't believe.

He told her that while sleeping one night he woke up and rolled over in bed. There before him was my grandma, in a chair that sits by their bed, watching him sleep. He said he couldn't believe it and when he blinked his eyes she was gone......"I wish I had never blinked.", he told my mom.

"I was awake as I am now and she was there......I wasn't dreaming".

I believe him.

I believe him as I believed my Grandma S.

We are never alone. God, and all of those who went before us, are with us always.

Lyrics to: I Believe- Diamond Rio

Every now and then, soft as breath upon my skin,
I feel you come back again.
And it’s like you haven’t been
gone a moment from my side,
Like the tears were never cried,
Like the hands of time were pulling you and me.
And with all my heart I’m sure, we’re closer than we ever were,
I don’t have to hear or see, I’ve got all the proof I need.
There are more than angels watching over me.
I believe, Oh, I believe.

Now when you die your life goes on,
It doesn’t end here when you’re gone.
Every soul is filled with light,
it never ends and if I’m right,
Our love can even reach across eternity.
I believe, Oh I believe.

Forever you’re a part of me,
forever in the heart of me,
I will hold you even longer if I can.
Oh the people, who don’t see the most,
say that I believe in ghosts.
If that makes me crazy, then I am......
Cause, I believe.
Oh I believe.
There are more than angels watching over me.
I believe, Oh I believe.

Every now and then soft as breath upon my skin,
I feel you come back again
And I believe.


jen said...

oh, friend. this is so lovely. a wonderful tribute to amazing souls.

the blinking part caved my heart in a little bit.

The Sour Kraut said...

I got goosebumps when I read the blink part too.

I KNOW - just know - that TMS's dad was around our house for the first few years after his death. Crazy as it sounds, I was so certain he was around that I used to say things out loud to him. Again, I can feel now that he's no longer around. I miss him.

Karen Forest said...

When he spoke to him, I know he heard you.

I have often told Mr. Forest that if something happens to me to please talk to me, because I know that I will be close to him and our children and to have someone acknowledge my spiritual presence would mean so much.

Oh, The Joys said...

I believe she was there.

Heidi the Hick said...

What a beautiful story- thanks for sharing!

Pendullum said...

Beautiful tribute to two soul mates...

Manda said...

i believe him too.