I had to go to the dentist yesterday, and my dentist is in Nashville (long story). I had a good report – no cavities and no guilt trip about failure to floss. Then, to take advantage of my trip, I went to visit my grandfather. Almost 93 years old, my grandfather has just been moved to a nursing home. Before this he lived in an apartment where people could check on him and cook for him, but since he broke his leg and isn’t able to do rehab (due to memory problems) he had to be moved. Yesterday was my first time to visit him there.

I have to say that my trip there was difficult, to say the least. My grandfather is one of the most independent people I have known, even after retiring from two jobs. When my grandmother died a few years ago, something changed, and he gradually became less mobile and more dependent on others. I was not really prepared for my visit. As I walked down the halls I saw the typical nursing home people – the woman in the wheelchair who waves and grabs your hand while muttering something unintelligible – the man in his bed watching TV with a blank stare on his face. I’ve seen it many times before – but it seemed so out of place as I was going to visit Grandaddy.

When I found his room, I took a double take. There was a man lying asleep in a chair, but it didn’t look like Grandaddy.  He looked so small, so helpless and so old. I touched his arm and he woke up, and I was relieved because it was him again. We talked for a while and joked about things. He still has a sense of humor, although he isn’t nearly as alert as he was even a few months ago. He had to have help getting to the bathroom, and I had to cut up his lunch (mystery meat, according to the nurse).

As we have gone thus far on this journey, my dad (who has dealt with him all the time) and I have talked about some serious issues about the end of our lives. He has concluded, and I agree, that once we hit a certain age (like 75 or so) we want to eat all of the pie and cake and burgers that we can. We want to be healthy while we can fully experience life, but neither of us has the desire to be in that condition. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not rooting for my grandfather to shuffle off this mortal coil, but it is so hard to see him be so miserable and helpless. He has had a long life, and I pray that I can have half of the influence that he has had. I want to live a while and experience my girls growing and grandchildren, etc. But I have no desire to linger on. Please don’t mourn me, whenever I go, because I will be in a better place, hanging out with Grandaddy and others who have preceeded me.

Okay, that was morbid. Sorry.