Ruth and I continued to write and talk on the phone from time to time. A year after I found Ruth, my Grandpa Frank (my mom’s dad) in Colorado died. I decided to go to the funeral and spent time with my uncle and aunt that lived there. My brother and my dad would be going to the funeral so I would get to see them as well. Once the plans were made for me to visit Colorado, I arranged for Ruth and me to meet in person while I was there. That was the most emotionally draining trip of my life.
I got to Colorado and was met at the airport once more by my brother and my dad. This was reminiscent of my trip back to California for my mother’s funeral. Of course, this being the first funeral I had attended since my mother’s death 11 or so years before, I was really nervous as to how my reaction was going to be. Add to that my impending visit with not only my biological mother, but also my half-sister and my biological grandfather and I was a basket case.
The first thing we did once we got settled in was to visit my grandmother in the nursing home. My mom’s mother had died of breast cancer when I was 4 years old. My Grandpa had married my Grandma Helen when I was in first grade. I just adored Grandma Helen. She would always play board games with me when they would come and visit us, and she once crocheted me this awesome afghan that is made up of about 50 different colors that I still have and love to this day.
My Grandma Helen had started getting the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease around five years before my Grandpa’s death. My Grandpa took care of Helen for several years as her disease progressed. At the same time, my Grandpa was battling prostate cancer. He had been given chemotherapy for a few cycles, but the side-effects affected him worse than the disease so he finally elected to stop taking them. He was in his late eighties at this time and the doctors agreed that since his prostate cancer was a slower growing type, getting off the chemo wouldn’t make a real big difference anyway.
Once Grandma Helen’s Alzheimer’s started getting worse, my Grandpa decided that he needed to get them both into around the clock nursing care. He also wanted to get Grandma Helen settled before she got too much worse. He did the sweetest, most sacrificially loving thing I have ever witnessed before. Grandpa got both of them into the nursing home and got it all set up with their things. He sold their house and basically got their affairs in order. Then he slowly began to pull himself out of Grandma Helen’s life. See…he knew he was going to die and he didn’t want my grandma to become confused any more than she already was.
After they got settled into the nursing home for a few months, he moved out of her room and moved next door to her. After a few months, when Grandma Helen was used to things again, he moved down the hall. He continued to visit her but as she continued to forget things he just let her forget them. It ended up being a really smooth transition for her and my Grandpa was relieved to know that Grandma Helen would be taken care of once he was gone.
We went to see Grandma Helen the afternoon before my Grandpa’s funeral. At first she wasn’t really sure who I was but after I while I started talking about my colorful afghan and she stated that she had made one for her granddaughter Debey. I told her that Debey was me and she seemed to recognize me and become relatively clearheaded for awhile. She was very happy and chatty but seemed a little sad. When we asked her why she was sad, she replied that, “That nice man Frank down the hall had died.” She had no idea that Frank had been her husband of many years. Even though it was hard to hear that she didn’t remember that Grandpa had been her husband, I was also glad for her sake that she didn’t and also that she wasn’t confused or grieving.
The next day we went to my Grandpa’s funeral. It was really a sad thing to go through but I knew that my Grandpa was a Christian and that he was going to Heaven. Even though I wasn’t saved at the time, I knew that without a shadow of a doubt.