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A Funeral Story Part 2

July 18, 2009

I always believed I would have my grandpa into his 90’s. His mom was 94 when she died and I thought he would be the same age. He was always a healthy active guy and I wasn’t prepared for this at all.

I woke up Saturday morning with dread in my heart. I knew what was about to happen but facing death with a countdown just doesn’t seem real. My aunt and I got to the hospital at 11am and the doctor was supposed to be there at 12. So we held his hands and told stories about him and laughed. I am certain the nursing staff thought we were insane if they were even paying attention at all. The VA seems like the place doctors and nurses work if they were at the bottoms of their class.

The doctor rolled in at 12:30 and asked if we were still going to discontinue the life support. I knew as soon as I touched my grandpas hand when I got to the hospital the day before that he was no longer in there. His hand felt dead and artificial. He was lifeless and I knew that I had to let him go. I told the doctor to go ahead and he assured me I was doing the right thing. Even so I still feel like somehow it’s my fault.

The doctor gave us a little briefing on what may happen as his body was shutting down and he really managed to terrify us. He said there may be gasping, shaking, tremors and a whole lot of other horrifying things. We each grabbed a hand and held on for dear life. We watched as they took out his ventilator and stopped the flow of IV meds. We just stared at the monitors and watched his heart rate and waiting for the lonely sound of the flat line to signify the end. At 12:57 I saw that the heart was just about to stop and I braced myself. I looked at Pam and we both started to cry. My heart was just about totally broken at that point when all the sudden we hear beeps again and looked up to see his heart rate back up in the 60’s. I looked at Pam and said Uh, is he just messing with us? We had no idea what was going on so we started to laugh. We watched the monitor and him for another 25 minutes before he was really gone. He was stubborn even in death- true to form. A few mins later his body jerked and made a gasping sound that I can still hear over and over in my head. I remember saying out loud; well I could have done without that. We watched the 0 heart rate mock us for I don’t know how long until the doctor came in and said he was gone.

Pam and I waited for an hour in shock, sadness, and laughter – true to our form for someone to come and tell us what the hell we were supposed to do next. As we started to wonder what to do Pam asked me, we weren’t supposed to rent a hearse or something were we? Listen if I hadn’t watched the Six Feet Under series 75 times I might have not known the answer to that question. I knew that our very own David Fisher would come to the hospital and pick him up.

We were finally sent down to a lady who handles the bodies. She gave me a hard time because I’m not a biological relative and I gave her the will, which names me alone as the executrix and beneficiary. She said she had to make a copy but her copy machine wouldn’t work and rather than go use one that did work she requested I fax the will. I didn’t realize that by her not completing this right at the time it would lead to a whole mess of trouble.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2009 1:25 pm

    Oh my goodness… I’m sorry to hear parts one and two, and based on your last sentence I’m guessing part three is going to be rough. For whatever it’s worth, I’m thinking of you and hope all goes well (as well as possible) in the coming weeks.

  2. July 20, 2009 5:55 am

    I’m sorry for your loss and the hell you had to go through in Houston.

  3. July 20, 2009 11:36 am

    I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather. I just lost my grandma last sunday (the 12th) and it was rough too. I wished she could have had a great and long end to her life, but she seemed miserable, so I’m glad its over. She was 75. At least death gives us an opportunity to reconnect with our other relatives and hear some great stories.

  4. July 30, 2009 10:44 am

    your mention of david fisher brought a chuckle out of me even though my eyes were welling with tears from reading your post. it’s strange where we get our ideas and knowledge of death and dying from sometimes. death, which awaits us all, is the thing that we talk about and prepare for the least. and maybe it’s because you can’t really prepare for it. but, it is a beautiful thing that you were with him at the end.

    thinking about you.

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