After over a year of having cancer my Grandpa has passed away. The last time I saw him was last Christmas, when he was aware of his condition but was still able to walk around, chat, laugh, smile and enjoy a lovely Christmas with the rest of our family who were there. I didn’t think that would be the last time that I saw him, but sadly it was.
I always remember staying with Granny and Grandpa when I was little. We would drive the long 9 hour car drive down to Wellington every Christmas – with both of my parents as this was before their divorce – and we would get to see both sets of my grandparents. Because we were so young, we would spend our days lying on the wooden floor drawing pictures with a set of felt tip pens, looking for the carefully hidden hedgehog (not real, of course) that contained some secret chocolate bars, and riding our little bikes around the garden and down the steep hill to their house at the time.
Jim, one of my grandparents on my dad’s side, passed away only a couple of years ago from a heart problem. He had been in hospital for a couple of weeks but was soon due home and sounded like he was well enough to come out. Sadly he passed away that morning, and it came as a complete shock to the rest of the family who believed he was getting better and going back home. It was so sudden that we didn’t get to see him before it happened. This was the first funeral that I had ever been to but certainly wouldn’t be the last.
Grandpa had been ill for a long time. At first he was well and able to get up, move around and go out to places. The first thing that happened was that he couldn’t leave their little apartment due to illness. The second thing that happened was he wasn’t able to leave his bed. I think it was at this point that Grandpa went into hospital and then a hospice shortly afterwards. He continued to get more and more ill with each passing day. Soon he stopped speaking and, eventually, stopped opening his eyes. Even though I didn’t this for myself in the flesh, I could tell it was slowly but surely wearing Grandpa down as each day passed.
Mostly he would lie in his bed peacefully and quietly, but sometimes he would become restless and uncomfortable and visibly in pain. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for Granny to see. They had been married nearly 58 years, after all. Granny never left his side throughout this entire time, sleeping in the hospice with Grandpa every night and was right by his side in his last moments.
One good thing I can think of with Grandpa is that we were able to prepare ourselves a little bit more because unfortunately he was just so ill that we knew it was only a matter of time. We knew it was only a matter of weeks, then days, then hours. Of course it was still a shock when it happened – there is no way you can fully prepare yourself to the point where you’re not shocked when it actually does happen – but it was also somewhat expected and we all knew this.
I’m glad Granny and Grandpa had a long and happy life together, despite it getting difficult towards the end. He was a pilot, she was a air hostess and together they were so strong, so loving, so caring…they were Granny and Grandpa. He will be greatly missed but will continue to be loved each and every day by his family.
Lucy Rebecca x