My grandma was dying for about a year. But grandpa was healthy as a horse til a week before he died.
I was ten years old and grief-crazed.... it all hit him at once, you see, and he also went from being totally lucid and wisecracky to full-on raving dementia in just a *heartbeat*, so they wouldn't let me see him once he'd fallen ill.
He might not have even recognized me, he may have cursed and thrown things...
I understand the decision now, as an adult and a parent.
But as a kid, I was just hysterical.
I'm sure I was tough for my parents to deal with, on top of losing Grandpa.
I wasn't allowed to go to the funeral, either. That, I'm still upset about.
I gave Elayna the choice when my maternal grandfather (her Poppy) died, when she was six. She chose to stay home.
I went to my first at 14. Grandma.
That was one of those deaths that's absolutely no surprise.
Took over a year. Hospitals, hospice, and finally a live-in nurse.
She took one of those turns for the worse that's like holding up a blinking sign saying "The End Is Near", and held on just long enough for her daughters to get there (they live in MA and NY; we lived 10 minutes away).
They got there, they said goodbye, we sat in the living room, and Grandma let go.
(mgrasso: It's weird how that happens sometimes, isn't it?
Me: Happens often. They just want that one last touch.)
And yes - grandma lived with us when she started getting sick.
Summer of my thirteenth year = picking grandma up when she fell in the shower.
We thought it was Alzheimer's at first, because she was doing stuff like leaving the stove on. Like I do now!
But it was a brain tumor.
Yeah, when I first started having neurological symptoms, I was terrified that it was a brain tumor.
We're not biologically related, so there's no elevated likelihood of it.
But she had a rough road, man.
She was very tired, when she went. It was time, and I think it was what she wanted.
I have closure on her, and on my other grandpa - Elayna's Poppy - but not on Grandpa Joe.
Elayna's Poppy - Grandma Herman - his body had been failing for a while.
Kidney failure - dialysis twice a week. Heart problems. Everything.
And then they found an aneurysm.
And they said okay, we can fix this - but with the shape you're in, we only give you about a 30% chance of pulling through.
So it was a) die in horrible pain randomly when the aneurysm explodes, or b) go under the knife and either recover or slip away quietly under morphine.
So, y'know, he chose b). Which is what I'd've chosen, under the circumstances.
The whole family came down before the operation, to say goodbye if it needed to be said.
He held on for six days after.
He was never very lucid. When he realized I was there, he asked why I wasn't in school.
My sister persisted in trying to explain to him that we weren't in school anymore, but he wasn't following.
I just said "It's Saturday, Grandpa."
And he would nod and squeeze my hand and drift back to sleep.
We knew he wasn't coming back. No sense in explaining and trying to overtax him. Just - the point was just to be there.
The few times he saw Elayna, he thought she was me.
Anyway.... he took two of those turns for the worse. Pulled through the first.
The second was in the middle of the night. Dad called, woke me, picked me up, drove me to the hospital.
I could've driven, back then, but... no one wanted anyone to be alone.
Everyone was there save my cousins, who'd had to go back to school, and my then-husband and Elayna.
Grandma and his two children and their spouses, my sister, and me.
And... we stood in a half-circle around the bed, and they pulled the plug.
And no one could watch. But me.
I couldn't not.
When they pull the plug with the family there, they turn off all the sound on the monitors.
So there's no beep when the heart stops.
But I watched Grandpa, and I watched the monitors.
Because I am the one who watches, records, remembers, knows.
And I saw when Grandpa stopped, and when his heart stopped, and I was the one who squeezed Mom's hand and said "He's gone."
(mgrasso: You do remember much more than I do in similar situations... I tend to block things like that out.
Me: *nods* I regard remembering as one of my Functions.)