The worst wait of all

We're waiting. My wife and I. She is more than me. I'm essentially ballast. The support team. Like the track marshals at an auto race waiting for disaster so they can rush in to assist the survivors. My wife's grandfather has cancer. It's everywhere and it's terminal. The hospice nurse told us that he has a matter of weeks. Less than a month to be sure. He sleeps most days and has little to no appetite. His spirits vary from denial to anger to passivity. He still has a laugh here or there. Usually reserved for my kids. His only great grandchildren. He's 85 years old and finally starting to look it. He left school after 8th grade to take care of the family when his father died. The war came and he went to the Pacific Theater for some nasty fighting that he recaps with one line: "I fought those Japs. They're a bunch a bastards." Any further questions are met with a stare like he just explained the situation and isn't clear on why you have more questions.

After the war he we a bus driver for the city. He was an alderman and city councilman and despite his lack of education (or perhaps because of it) he was very well liked and re-elected until he retired and moved to Florida. He was there for many years and in the last 5 he was there he complained of recurring UTI's. We teased him about how people normally develop them and he took it in stride. After he moved to Delaware, he went for his annual checkup and they actually ran some tests and found out that it wasn't an infection after all. It was bladder cancer. They started chemo and he hated it. When it failed to have the desired effect, they sent him for a full body scan. I'm no doctor but when I saw the little white dots everywhere I knew that was the end. In the bones, in the stomach, in spine. Everywhere. My wife didn't know what to look for but when she looked at me she asked me why I looked pale. I showed her the spots and she wept.

His family visits him every day. Far too late for such visits. He sleeps through many of them and is often resentful that people waited so long to come see him. He's angry because he doesn't want to go.

My wife said last night she doesn't know why she should go to the wake. I said it's important to talk to the people he leaves behind. She said if it's about paying respects, she can do that at the memorial service. I told her she should find his oldest friends. The people she doesn't know and ask them to tell her something about him, a story or little known fact, that she can remember him by. I think that helped. After that she sounded more upbeat about going.

I hate the waiting. I hate to see my wife in pain. "Poppy" isn't in pain. He's on morphine now which is part of why he's sleeping so much. Watching him fade day after day is the brutal.


Paul Smith Jr. said…
Sorry about what you're going through. I'm sure you'rein all our prayers.
Anonymous said…
that sucks man, I'm really sorry to hear that.
Duffy said…
Thanks guys. I appreciate that. Canceling a visit this weekend due to weather was not easy.

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