My Grandpa and the
Long Good-bye
By:K9CAR4@aol.com
I never knew my Great Grandparents on my Mothers side, they had passed away long before I was born. My Grandfather told me many stories about his Mom as I was growing up. Her name was Emmaline Lilly, and she died when my Grandfather was just seventeen. She was an Herbalist, and a Grande Lady according to Grandpa.
When she became ill and bedridden at a very young age, Grandpa would go to her room after school, in order to spend time with her. Every time he came home from being out on a date or just out with the guys, he would tell her all about the events of his day.
Grandpa spent as much time as he could with his Mother, for he knew she would not have long to live.
I learned about everything I know from my Grandpa, for he and my Grandmother pretty much raised me. After the divorce of my parents when I was quite young, my Mother and I moved in with my Grandpa and my Grandma, while my Mom went back to college, and held down a part time job.
 My Grandpa taught me many things, the most important I believe, was to 'Respect All Living Things,' which he told me, was the essence of the 'Golden Rule.'
I have tried to live my life by this rule, as it applies, for all my life.
When I was born, I became 'Sweetheart Number Three,' my Mom being Sweetheart Number two, and the love of Grandpa's life, my Grandmother was Sweetheart Number One. There would be more 'Sweethearts' to follow as time would pass and my own children came into this world.  At my birth, my Grandpa also dubbed me, his 'Tootsie,' which stuck all my life, as I was known to family and close friends.
To this day, the few remaining members of that side of my family, still call me 'Toots,' they are the only ones 'allowed' to do this.
Grandpa never missed a day without visiting his only grandchild, me, and in the years that followed, his only Great Grandchildren, Beth, Jenny, Chris and Amy, my children.
In my Grandfathers early sixties, around 1967, we began to notice signs that were not consistent with normal behavior. Back then, Alzheimer's was not a word we even knew, but as time passed, we learned the word and all it's implications.
In 1974 my last child Amy, 'Sweetheart Number Seven' was born.
Grandpa had such a hard time remembering her name, and knowing even then something was wrong, but not aware of what it could be,
he decided in order to not forget his newest Great Grandchild's name, he would write her name on the
Kitchen Counter in pencil.
I looked, and he had written the name Mazie.
To this day, on ocassion, I will still, lovingly, call my 26 year old daughter, Mazie.
 In 1978 my Grandparents, my Mom and Stepfather, all moved together into a large home not far from my family. We would visit often, and with each visit, a little bit of Grandpa had slowly slipped away.

The years went by, Grandpa no longer watched the birds of spring, felt the hot 'Dog Days' of summer, smelled the burning leaves of fall, nor would he ever again, delight at the Pure Joy of his great-grandchildren on Christmas morning..
For all purpose, my Grandfather's life had no meaning or substance, he merely existed.
 He hardly knew any of us, and would often stand in front of the mirror, babbling, almost like baby talk, to 'the new friend he had made.'
Those times were painful to see, and the agony of such a once vital man, his mind withering with each passing day was inconceivable.
So often I would wish I could just for a moment, sit down and talk to my Grandpa, the way we used to when I was young, about everything and nothing, just to be in the 'Pleasure' of his company when the world was less complicated and we could sip our 'Root Beer' floats while gliding on the porch swing.
However, that was to never be again.
By, 1980 my Grandfathers mind was to the point where he could not utter an intelligible word, he would try to communicate, with syllables that made no sense at all no matter how hard we tried to recognize what he was trying to convey. Then in 1981, he stopped talking all together, until an early January morning in 1982.
My husband Bill, and I received a call from my Mother at 3:30 AM to come to the house, she thought my Grandfather was dying, I didn't believe this as his body was healthy, it was his mind that could no longer grasp reality.
It was so cold out, the wind chill was 23 degrees below zero and none of our vehicles would start, we donned snowmobile suits to make the walk to the house, just as we were about to make the trek, my Mom pulled into our driveway, and took us to her home, fortunately, her car had started.
As my husband and I stood in the doorway to my Grandfathers room, Grandpa kept trying to see behind us, he not once noticed we were standing there.
As the early morning light came, once again Grandpa kept trying to see around whomever was standing in the doorway of his room, then a BIG smile erupted upon his face, and for the first time in many years, with eyes that sparkled with the wise knowledge he displayed as a young man, he utter a MOST intelligible word, "Mamma!" ...
She had come for him and he knew she was coming, this I believe is who he was waiting for on that cold Seventeenth day, in January of 1982
he died at 7:00 AM.
Many times over the years, almost every day of my life, I have asked my Grandpa, though gone, for advise. I have talked to him the way I used to as a child, a young adult, a Mom and a Grandmother.
On December Tenth of 1999, I awoke in the middle of the night, "KNOWING'
I MUST make a flower arrangement for my Grandmother, who had been ailing for a number of years.
I also KNEW it had to be 'Purple' my Grandpa's favorite color. I made the arrangement of all various shades of deep purple, and put the arrangement in an old German antique vase with Violets on it, again, Grandpa's favorite.
I gave the Flowers to my daughter Jenny to deliver, when she asked why I had done this, I told her not to mention it, but these were from Grandpa.
My Grandmother was pleased with the lovely flowers, and thanked me.
Three days later she died in her sleep.
Grandpa was waiting for her as well, I don't even question that.
After the Paramedics left, the sunlight filled her room, stopping to cast it's glow on only one object, the vase of purple flowers, and then the sunlight left and went behind a cloud.
 



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