About two weeks ago my grandpa slipped on the stairs entering his house in Minnesota. It was one small slip that has changed my whole family’s life. He broke his neck, and when being moved from the Intensive Care Unit, choked on his own mucus causing him to go into cardiac arrest. We take for granted the simple things; being able to stand, sit, talk, squeeze our hands into a fist, eat, shower, swallow. All of these things my grandpa cannot do without help.
It runs in our family’s blood to be stubborn and hard-headed, and my grandfather despite not being able to talk, still manages to talk over my grandma, and mouth a few of his favorite words: Fuck, Bullshit, and Asshole.
He has what they call a “halo” screwed into his head to keep his neck in place, and even though he says is not painful, how can something bolted into your skull be pleasant?
My grandma is one of the strongest women I know, I don’t know how in the hell she doesn’t cry every time her husband looks at her and begs her to bust him out of the hospital. He doesn’t understand he has to be there for so long, he doesn’t want photos on the wall. He wants it to feel temporary. She’s able to understand about 30% of what he says which only adds fuel to the frustration on both sides.
He developed a way to “call” my grandma and me to his side by making kissing noises and sounds only described as ways to giddy up a horse. We walk over and he mouths, “take my hands.” So we take his hands, “now get me the fuck out of here.” My grandma looks at me “oh lordy,” and turns to him, “Dave, you need to stay here,” he looks at her, “bullshit,” he mouths, and she laughs with no answer. My grandpa looks at me to try, “come on Jane, get me the fuck out of here,” I look at him and shake my head, “grandpa, if I could steal you away I would.”
I am so grateful to have him still in my life, and to know that even though he’s going through hell he can still swear like a sailor. My grandma and grandpa will be going on their 49th wedding anniversary this summer. They have been each other’s best friends for almost half a century. Their lives revolve around each other, she told me when I first got to Minnesota, “You know, it’s been a lot of years for the better, we’re now in it for the worse.”