Thursday, November 28, 2013

Shopping for Grampa

My Grampa has cancer. And he will die very soon.
What Christmas gift do you buy a person who is dying of cancer?
It is completely impossible and hurts to think about. 

I have been mostly okay with the fact that my Grandpa has only a few months to live. I am sad in little bits, and mostly just keep busy to cope.  And then I was reminded I need to buy him something for Christmas. Geez.

It completely breaks me. Completely.

We found out a few weeks ago. He was getting dizzy, and not feeling well. He hasn't been in the best health lately- he has emphysima, and has complications that go along with that. But due to the dizzy spells my Aunt took him to the doctor.


A mass in his brain. And his lung, and a suspicious mass in his abdomen.

It is treatable to an extent. But my Grampa has chosen not to treat it, and rather just live out the next few months as best as he can. Without treatment the doctors estimate that he has a few months.

My Grampa is a quiet man. Growing up he didn't have much to say, and let my Gram do most of the talking. So trying to get him to talk about this, and how he feels is impossible. Instead when I call we talk about the weather, and how he feels health wise, and what he had for supper the night before. Things that don't matter. But I guess to him, those are the things that do matter. The things that are okay to talk about, without dealing with the emotional side of it.

And that brings me to the gift. I barely know what to say to him. Let alone buy him somthing for Christmas.  Should I buy him the same old thing- a Home Depot gift card, some chocolate, and a crossword book? What if he doesn't get around to spending it? Should I try and find something that has more meaning. Something that he can do. Right now. Before he runs out of time? I am at a complete loss.

It brings me to tears when I think about it. And I am not a person who cries. Like ever.

My parents are flying out Saturday to see him. Spend some time with him. I won't be able to go until January. We have some serious issues at work staff wise, and I don't want to go too soon. Or too late. The rest of my extended family are also making plans to go and visit. So we are trying to plan it so there aren't too many people at once. January will be better work wise (hopefully), and the Christmas rush will be over family wise.  He is still feeling pretty good for the most part. A little trouble with his speech and dizzy spells, but otherwise pretty normal. My hope is that can continue to be that way until after Christmas.

It seems weird to be planning this "one last visit"- It breaks my heart to think that I may never see him again. I am so thankful to have spent those few weeks with him this past Summer. We made some good memories. Memories that I will need.

When my Grama died I had nothing but regret and pain for a long time. Regret that I didn't make more time for such an important part of my life. Regret that I didn't get to say goodbye. And so much heartache. So I am determined to make the best of the time that is left. And I've been calling him regularly. It is hard to talk about the weather, and the football game, and all that trivial stuff. But soon I won't have even that so I will cherish each time I get to hear his voice.

As I write this it comes to me that maybe the perfect gift for him is just the regular old thing. The stuff he loves, the stuff he likes to do. So what if he might not be able to finish the project he's been working on- I think it will be important for him to keep on the best he can. And for us to support that.



Talbot Tails said...

I have been in this position before and most gifts just seem so trivial. Could you put together a photo album of your special memories together as a gift? A book he could look through and recall the times shared together.

Jenny Glen said...

Well, one of the things I would get him would be a framed picture of you and your sister with him from this summer. That one you had on your FB page would be perfect. Put it in a frame that can be propped up on a stand so that if he ends up in the hospital towards the end, he can have that near his bed so he knows you are always there to love him.

Anonymous said...

Keeping you and your family in our thoughts as you go through this hard time.

WigglyZack said...

So sorry to hear about your Grandpa - it's very painful when a family member has cancer.

Wendy Devent said...

I love Jenny's idea!

I'm so sad for you. It seems like all my relatives die suddenly. We never have a chance for last goodbyes but we also don't have time to dwell on the inevitable.

DeltaBluez Tess said...

when Jean my Korean sister was dying of brain cancer, I went to see her and told her stories of herding that I attended, gave her my whistles to learn and wrote down stories from your childhood so she could read them As well my feeling for her and what she meant and did.

^..^Corgidogmama said...

Time spent together, stories, hand holding, back's a hard time for don't matter. You told this story beautifully.

Tammy Taylor said...

So sorry to hear about your grandpa

I bet all he wants is those visits and phone calls. I love the photo book idea as well.

Karen said...

So sorry to hear about your Grandpa. I think the best gift you can give him is your time. Your phone calls would mean lots to him, and your visit will as well. Love the photo ideas already mentioned.

onecollie said...

I was just going to post the same thing as Jenny, a framed picture of you guys from your summer visit, he will love it...
You will be surprised how once you are there you will cope, sounds like your grampa has accepted it, and is ready, such a brave man.
You can cry by the way, call me anytime, or come see me, we can cry together, I'm good at crying :)

Maryk said...

I am so, so sorry to hear about your Grandpa. I also lost a relative before having that time together & understand your feelings of loss & regret.

A photo album is a good idea. If he is up to it, perhaps a tape recorder. Everyone could sit with him and he could tell stories of when he was a child &/or a young man, if he's up to it. You might learn some surprising things.

And it would be a way to hear his voice again, after he's gone.

God bless you and yours. I hope things go as well as they can.