My grandfather, John, is in the hospital. He is eighty-four years old, and has recently gone through a minor stroke, a heart attack, and open heart surgery, and has kept fighting.
He's always been a fighter. Everyone in my family has. It runs in our blood, I guess, it's in our name. Thirty years ago, my grandparents, my mother, and my aunts were involved in a bad accident on the Alaskan interstate. My grandmother was killed on impact. My mother, the driver, was pinned unconcious in the burning vehicle. My grandfather, his back broken, lifted my mother's seat out of the van and carried her away from the wreck.
You have to have the heart of a warrior to go through something like that and come out victorious.
Granddad is in his third marriage. The first ended when his wife died giving birth to his son, my uncle. My grandfather was stationed in Pearl Harbor at the time, serving his country during World War II. He never saw her again.
It was after the war, I suppose, when he remarried; this time to my grandmother in blood, my mother's mother. She was taken from him in the accident I already mentioned. My mother was seventeen at the time. I never met my grandmother.
He married again after that, into his current marriage, to the woman that I call grandma. I tell you this not because I think you'll place some great importance on it, but because it highlights the kind of man that he is.
On Monday, my grandparents were out running errands and generally doing things that you do when you leave the house. When they returned, my granddad, who had overexerted himself that day, was delirious, though he's never been one to complain when something is wrong. My grandmother realized that he was ill when he started asking her for help in doing strange things, such as photocopying an envelope and some sheets of paper. She took him to the hospital.
When they arrived at the hospital, my grandfather's heart and breathing stopped. If you call a beating heart and working lungs living, then he was dead for somewhere short of five minutes.
Granddad was a government worker. As such, he is on a government pension. When he dies, that pension still comes in to his family, but is cut somewhere in the ballpark of half. His wife and his two daughters from that marriage, both my age, are still financially dependent on him. He knows that, and I think that's one of the primary reasons that he's still hanging on, to care for his family.
In my grandfather's will, there is a non-revival clause. This means that he has stated that if he dies, he does not want to be brought back. Monday night, they brought him back. He is attached to a respirator, has a tube in his lungs to drain fluid buildup there, and is heavily drugged, but he is alive.
On Tuesday, the people who were keeping a bedside vigil (his wife and some of the kids) found him trying to chew through the respirator tube. I discussed that with a friend of mine the other day. Here is a man who, by his own statement, should not be alive right now, and though he is almost helpless in bed, he is still trying to keep some control and dignity in his life. In the words of my friend, "Your family doesn't do anything halfway, do they? Your grandpa decides that it's time to go, and it's <insert vigorous chewing motions here>."
Thanks for being an example to me all my life, granddad. Even if it's time to go, I just want you to know that you'll always be a hero to me.