Fucking Cancer.

In a lot of ways 2011 continues to be an awful year.

The beginning of August, on the way to Pittsburgh (which I still haven’t posted about yet, geez), I got a text from my sister that my paternal grandpa had been diagnosed with lung cancer.  He quit smoking 20+ odd years ago and I guess it wasn’t soon enough.  It is stage IV and he has been given 6-10 months.  He’s in his late 70s, so he’s had a pretty long life all things considering, especially good for a man who smoked for as long as he did, but it just sucks.  He quit smoking because his father died a painful death from lung cancer from smoking.  He didn’t want to die that death.  And yet he will.

I am surprised with how emotional I get when I talk to somebody about it.  I didn’t expect myself too I guess, because I’ve never been extremely close with the man.  I love him because he is my grandfather and he has always been kind to me and all that jazz, but I don’t really know him, like who he is as a person… that is not the type of relationship that I ever had with him.  I just really know him as a man who was defined by his work and his hobbies.

My dad has told me to come visit him soon.  I know I need to.  I know how important it is.  But I dread it.  I am angry at myself for not seeing him before he got sick.  Now I am making the “goodbye” visit.  Going to see somebody because you know they are going to die soon is the fucking suckiest visit in the world.  Especially when you didn’t make enough visits when they were healthy.

It is hard for me to even have this feeling… even though I do…. simply because the relationship with my paternal grandparents has always been very strange.  My paternal grandmother has always been a… mostly functional alcoholic, so as you can imagine that impacted the relationship it was possible to have with her.  Although as young kids we did go over there a lot, always had Christmas over there, played over there tons when we were older.  My grandparents owned a video rental shop up until maybe 5 years or a bit more ago and it was down the road from the elementary school I went to up until we moved when I was in 5th grade.. so I remember going to the video shop a lot after school.  I know, it seems weird saying that my parents let us around somebody who I just described as a functional alcoholic but she didn’t really drink when the grandkids were around, that was the one time she didn’t… if she was entrusted in the care of one or more of us.  It was mostly when there was nobody else around.  But she was always a cold woman, up until about 10 years ago or so, she started to soften a bit.  Maybe it was with her increasing age… I don’t.

But my grandfather… I don’t know.  I don’t have many memories of him.  I have one tender moment memory of him when I was very young, I fell asleep in the car when driving somewhere with him and my dad and ended up falling asleep against my grandpa’s shoulder.  I awoke briefly to him carrying me into the house.  Otherwise, he was almost always at work.  He was very money driven as well, and they had done well for themselves financially because of that.  He was always at the shop, working on electronic equipment or messing around with computers.

He and my grandmother have been married all these years, but they always slept  in separate rooms.  Grandma had the bedroom upstairs and he slept down on the sofa.  There were always whispers that the was sometimes mean to her, although us kids never saw any evidence of that.  Obviously something was off based on the sleeping situation and the fact that they spent little time together, but she still often acted like a good wife to him.

My dad lived with them for some periods of time after he and my mom divorced, so that was more time we spent a lot of time there.  On Sundays before we went back to my mom’s we always had Sunday dinner with dad, grandma, and grandpa.

I was so impressed with my grandpa the first time I brought Ki to meet them.  He made an effort to reach out and talk to Ki, ask questions, get to know him, put him at ease.

But despite all these memories, I never felt really connected.  But I feel connected enough to feel grief at his illness.

My sister took Tristin to go see him before he got really really sick like he is getting now and I wish I could have went then, when it still felt a bit more hopeful.

I want to remember him how I do remember him.  Not sick.  Especially not sick with cancer.  Because if there is anything I hate the most in this world, cancer would be it.  It is the worst fucking illness in this world.  But I know it is selfish for me to be that way.  If I don’t do it for myself, I at least need to go see him for my dad.  My dad really wants me to.  And I think, maybe it is important to do that for my dad, because my dad is taking it all rather hard and is still in some level of denial about the whole thing.  I think that maybe it is important for my dad to share HIS dad with his children one last time.   And maybe on some level it is important for my dad to share US with his dad one last time.

And then on top of this… my paternal grandmother had her breast removed earlier this year for the breast cancer which they have in check now but she is still needing to have a major heart surgery which is extremely risky.  She put it off due to my grandpa’s diagnosis.  She was supposed to have it in August but they found out he had cancer first.  And my maternal grandfather was in the hospital recently and had to have a pacemaker put in or else he would have died.

I know I am lucky to have gotten this far in life with my grandparents.  I am grateful for that.  But I never really thought about it I guess about how hard it would be to have to tell them goodbye.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Garland Collins Ryder
    Sep 25, 2011 @ 00:11:38

    (I’m one of the goals people off MLW) I’ve been where you are, it REALLY stinks. You will feel worse if you don’t go visit before it happens though, make the best of the situation and be strong! You can do it!

    Reply

    • Raychela
      Sep 25, 2011 @ 03:31:24

      I totally remember who you are =) Thanks for still stopping by my blog on occasion.
      You are right, if I don’t visit I will have to live that regret the rest of my life. I know I will be glad once I go, it is just getting through the fear.

      Reply

  2. merchcymraeg
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 18:57:58

    Hey Raychela, I hope you went to visit your grandparents. I’m losing so many family and friends to cancer that I now make the effort with my healthy friends. I just don’t want to live a life of regrets. Believe me you will feel so much better for going and your dad will really appreciate it too.

    But remember, don’t leave it until your friends are ill to maintain contact, it could happen anytime, they could be run over by a bus and you’ll feel the regret or the guilt. And don’t say to yourself “well they haven’t contacted me” because if something happens to one of them that thought won’t make you feel any better.

    I expect you’ve heard the saying “feel the fear and do it anyway”? x x

    Reply

    • Raychela
      Nov 03, 2011 @ 10:59:51

      Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately my grandfather passed away 2 weeks ago Friday. I have some regrets but in my post about his funeral I definitely made all the realizations that you mentioned. I don’t think I was necessarily wrong in my decision not to see him when he was ill, I do believe my decision might have been much different had we been much closer but I still don’t feel like that that is a “good enough” excuse or any excuse at all and that is one of the lessons I learned. His passing definitely showed me that I don’t want to have anymore regrets of how I spent time with my loved ones, words I said to them, or time spent with them. I feel like my grandpa’s death really brought everything you are talking about to light in my life. It is almost a bit eery to just have finished posting about his death/funeral waking me up to certain things in this life and then to see this comment waiting in my approval box heh

      Reply

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