When it comes to your aging grandparents or parents, it’s important to spend as much time with them as possible and sincerely try not to have any regrets. Try and prepare yourself to say goodbye and be there, you may find that some of your most cherished moments happen in these times.
I know and have witnessed the path of natural aging to death:
- Steps we take to get our residence ready for us or loved ones (and all the ways to accommodate aging in place) –
- Looking into the costs of senior living
- Moving into a caregiving facility
- If we’re lucky, we dodge disease and pass away of normal causes
I was lucky to have three great grandparents and one great step grandparent growing up who were able to live long full lives. Unfortunately, my father’s father passed before I was ever a thought.
It happened that I became extremely close to my grandparents on my mother’s side. I knew the day would come when they would pass and wanted to make sure they knew how much I appreciated them always being there for me, by being there for them.
As I grew up, moving was inevitable. Moving away from my family was hard, but it was something I needed to grow. As time passed, the end was getting closer for both my grandfather and grandmother. My grandmother was put into a caregiver home and was starting to show signs of Alzheimer’s. My grandfather was still holding on strong and was able to take care of himself and moved into a senior living facility.
I always dreamed of having one last moment to truly cherish with them that could be with me the rest of my life.
Last Day with Grandma
One of my fondest memories with my grandmother is sitting on her lap when I was young and her tickling my face with her fingernails (that were always nice and perfect) until I fell asleep.
I traveled home to see my grandmother, knowing that this could be the last time I would get to see her, talk to her, hug her, tell her I love her. I was to go on a trip the next day. As I walked into her facility, I felt it…this was going to be the last time. I went into her room and there she was laying in bed relaxing. By this time, the Alzheimer’s had been getting worse and she only remembered who my mother and I were, but not regularly. I put my knees on the floor and and my head on her lap. No words were spoken as my grandmother placed her hand on my face and proceeded to tickle my face, as if she would never forget. I knew this was her way of saying goodbye. This moment will be with me for the rest of my life and I can’t put into words how grateful I am to have been able to make the trip home to see my grandmother. She passed while I was away on my trip.
Last Day with Grandpa
My grandfather was a navigator for charter planes in WWII and was one of my biggest role models. He was rough around the edges and very hard to get close to, but I always did my best to try. He was never one to tell you he was proud of you, tell you he loved you, or even give you a hug.
It was couple years after my grandmother passed that we started seeing my grandfather start to go downhill. As I would travel home, it became a common theme for me to make my rounds to say bye to everyone the day before I was to leave, always saving my grandfather for last.
Walking into his home, I found myself having the same feeling that I had walking into see my grandmother. I knew this would be the last time I would see him. As I helped him with his iPad and we talked of family and friends, my new job, my wife…he looked at me and said “I am so proud of you, I love you.” The only time in my life that he told me he was proud of me. Again, this moment will be with me for the rest of my life and I can’t put into words how grateful I am to have been able to make the trip home to see my grandfather. He passed not two weeks after.
You see, we should not fear death, as it will happen to all of us. It’s truly the little things in life that count and being there for your loved ones. I was not sad that my grandparents passed, I do miss them, but I know they’re in a better place. The grieving process was made easier for me, knowing that I have those final moments that meant the most.
Updated: December 21, 2015