Since about Christmas, my grandfather’s health hadn’t been great. He was too much for his wife, Joanne, to handle on her own, so she put him in a nursing home nearby, where he proceeded to do things like try to break out and get his cellphone confiscated for calling the police and telling them he was being held against his will. On top of that, he didn’t exactly listen when they told him not to walk around on his own and he wasn’t exactly stable when he tried, so he fell a few times and broke some bones.

So knowing he wasn’t doing well and since we don’t visit with him much, Brandon, Kelly, Paul, and I took a weekend at the end of January, packed up the car, and went out to see him on the other end of the state. We got in Saturday evening, checked into our hotel, then went straight over to see him.

I felt bad for the staff taking care of him, honestly, because I’d heard enough to know that he was a difficult patient. But I felt bad for him, too, because if I were in his situation, I’d be miserable–and it seemed like the staff kind of ignored him at times, which I have mixed feelings about. I get that he was a lot to handle, but it’s also not fair to just pretend he’s not there when he’s getting on your nerves. When we walked in and the staff told us where his room was, they commented on how he’d been yelling. Well, we found him just outside of his room with a part of his wheelchair caught on like a laundry bin, so he couldn’t move. I kind of felt like he’d gotten himself stuck and had been down there yelling about it and they just assumed he was being difficult.

But like I said, I did feel bad for the staff, too. The few times we saw him interact with them, he was snippy and a little uncooperative. Us being there probably worked for everyone–he got visitors, and they got a break.

That Saturday night, he was actually pretty talkative. He was diagnosed with dementia, and my mom had told us that when she and my dad visited a few weeks prior, he would get things confused then get frustrated with himself for doing so. So we did have some idea of what to expect, but for the most part, he was doing well. He knew who we were and perked up when he saw us, and he kept saying how glad he was that we were there. I’m not sure if anyone had told him we were going, and even if they had, I’m not sure he would’ve remembered. I’m not even sure when we went the next day if he remembered us having been there, although he did remember that my parents had been there recently.

Because he was so talkative, and partly going off past experience in similar situations with my great-grandma, for example, we stayed a little longer than we’d originally planned, then grabbed ourselves a pizza, went to bed, and did it again the next day. My dad told us he liked Dunkin’ Donuts, so we picked up a dozen that I’m not sure ever were eaten, but eh. He was much more confused that day, repeating himself often and seeming to struggle with things like which grandkids we were. But still, we hung around for a while, until Joanne and her son came by with some military paperwork for my dad and uncles to look into, then hit the road to come home, stopping at a rest stop for some fast-food dinner on the way back.

I was hoping to make it back up again soon–February and March were both busy, with me working Saturdays in March, so we were aiming for a weekend in April. Unfortunately, he died about two weeks ago. My parents were able to make it out one more time, but he’d declined mentally, which we think was partly the fault of the staff at the facility he’d been moved to. We don’t know for sure, but we think they were keeping him drugged up to deal with him better, and we think that had he been elsewhere, he might’ve lasted a little longer. When my parents came back, my mom said she was shocked and upset by how much he’d declined, especially having seen him a few weeks prior and even hearing us talk about our visit with him shortly after that.

So rest in peace, Pap Pap. You know we loved you, and we know you loved us.

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