My grandfather is still in the hospital, and any hope for recovery has become fleeting. Dementia has set in, and he believes that rather than being treated in a Maryland hospital, he is stuck in Buffalo, NY jail. “If they find a body,” he told my mother, “they might try to pin the murder on me.”

He attempted to pull out his IV and catheter, yesterday, and refused to have an MRI done even after he signed his consent. He keeps saying that he’ll go home just as soon as he finds his shoes and asks everyone for a dime so he can call his wife, my dead grandmother, who he’s sure is worried about him. Any hostility I had towards the man is now gone. At this stage, he is just a very frightened, very sick old man in a situation he does not understand. It is difficult to hold any of his past actions against him, when you consider the present.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to make it up to see him. My boss is away on a business trip, and I have a newsletter going to press, so I have to be here to take care of it. I’m certain this continues to sap whatever good karma I have left, as well as makes my grandfather’s friends think I’m a terrible person, but such is life.

My mom is taking her new position as next of kin for a man she doesn’t like (and isn’t related to) in stride, although her anger towards his children is starting to boil over. My mom rarely has a bad thing to say about anyone -- especially my hopelessly incompetent, selfish and stupid aunt and uncle.

When my dad died, my grandfather told both his surviving children, “The good one’s dead.” I thought that was a terrible thing to say, but now I’m starting to re-evaluate that opinion.

The only person in Buffalo my mother can get on the phone is my cousin Jennifer. My Aunt Linda and Uncle Johnny are unaccounted for -- Johnny won’t return my mom’s phone calls, and Linda lives with Jennifer but is apparently never at home when my mom tries to reach her. They seem relatively unconcerned about the fate of my grandfather, but are concerned about the presence of one John C., my grandfather’s only friend.

John was my dad’s carpool buddy many years ago, and after my dad’s death, he struck up a friendship with my grandfather. He seems like a good enough guy, and I think he’s genuinely concerned about my grandfather’s welfare. My aunt and uncle are convinced that he was behind a burglary two years ago that resulted in the loss of my grandfather’s prized coin collection, but I have never been convinced of John’s guilt. My grandfather keeps his entire life savings in envelopes scattered around the house -- if John really wanted to rob my grandfather, he would have taken those. I do suspect that he wants a cut of my grandfather’s estate, such as it is, for his efforts -- and to be honest, I don’t really want to begrudge the guy that. He has taken care of him. It’s more than I can say of myself, or my aunt and uncle can say of themselves. John was there for my grandfather, we weren’t.

My cousin passed a message from my aunt and uncle on to my mom stating that she’s to take away John’s keys to my grandfather’s house. It pisses me off enough that two people who are too cowardly to even speak to my mother directly are barking orders at her, but to think that they have the audacity to dishonor the one person who’s stood by my grandfather, when they themselves cut off contact. They, too, are concerned about my grandfather’s estate -- I’m sure that they’d be more than happy to liberate his house of a few of those envelopes of cash. The way I see it, they are the real thieves, intent on picking the corpse clean. But when it comes to the unsavory aspects of participating in deciding on his health care, they’re conspicuously silent. Bloody hypocrites.

The only other person besides John and my mother who I believed is owed anything of my grandfather’s estate is my cousin Mark. Mark is in the Army Airborne, and is unfortunately on combat training maneuvers in Canada. He’s the only cousin I have who has kept in regular contact with my grandfather -- visiting and writing letters. Although he and I have very little in common personally, I have an enormous amount of admiration and respect for him. His situation growing up was pretty awful -- he was abandoned by his parents at age six, and raised by his teenaged sister -- but he’s managed to put his life together. The Red Cross is trying to get him some leave so he can come and see our grandfather. My fingers are crossed that he’ll be able to come.

Meanwhile, there are rumblings that my aunt and uncle and a few of my other cousins may drive down to make an appearance. There’s a part of me that wants them to -- to shift the burden from my mother -- and there’s another part of me that’s outraged that they may come down and try to take control of the situation.

In anticipation of their arrival, my mother rescued my great grandfather’s war medals, which were pinned on him by the King of England for valorous service in the Canadian army in World War I. My relations would no doubt sell them if they got their hands on them.

I am currently preparing a monologue of Shakespearean proportions to deliver to my relatives on our next meeting. Years and years of dealing with them have come to a boil, and I’m ready to let them know what I think of them. I’m anticipating this with a mixture of excitement and dread. I’d love for them to put up a fight, but I suspect they’ll just avoid what I have to say, just like they avoid everything else. But it would be worth it to try at least.