On a Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I received a frantic phone call from my Aunt. She told me that my 90 year old Grandfather was in the hospital and he was on life support. The doctor said he might only have a few hours left. That call hit me like a ton of bricks. It took a moment to register what I was actually hearing.
I called my parents and my sister to give them the news and then I rushed to the hospital. I went up to the 4th floor and opened the double doors to see my family all sitting together in the waiting area.
They got me up to speed on the details and severity of the situation. He had several things ailing him. I will spare you the details of exactly what they were. If it were only one or two things, his body could fight it but he had several things all at once and being almost 90 years old, he just couldn’t fight all of them.
The current status was that he was no longer able to breath on his own and had to be put on life support. The doctor had advised my Aunt and my Dad to prepare themselves to make the decision as to whether or not to pull the plug. As a family, we all knew my Grandfather very well. He was a tough as nails Korean war vet. He would want us to just pull the plug and not think twice about it.
However, when you are actually in that situation it’s always different. It’s never a clear choice. The answer to that question easily gets clouded by emotions. They allowed me to go into the room and see him. He was just laying there in the fetal position with his eyes closed and breathing tubes. It was difficult for me to see him like that. It broke my heart.
He grew up in the great depression and he joined the U.S. Navy as a teenager. He was on the USS Dixie stationed in Tsingtao and was the last US ship to leave Chinese waters when the Americans left the Chinese mainland. He was also on the USS Pasadena which was in the Tokyo Bay in 1945 when Japan surrendered in WWII.
I loved hearing his stories about his time in the Navy, The Korean War, the Chosin reservoir, and patrolling the Pacific. I could probably write an entire book about the things he’s seen and done in his life. I just kept thinking to myself that everything in his entire life that lead him to this point, almost 90 years of experiences were all right there in that hospital room and on the verge of being blown out like a candle.
We lost my Grandmother a few years ago, his wife of over 60 years. His “hunny-bunny” as he used to call her. Even when she was on her deathbed, he would hold her hand and call her his little hunny-bunny. After she passed away, I made it a point to go visit him every Sunday because now he was living on his own.
He took her death hard. After she passed away, I would even catch him talking out loud to her as if she was still in the room. Part of me wondered if he was finally ready to go too, just so he can be with her again.
I know it’s cliche to say this but life really is short. The days go by slow but the years go by so fast. We only get one shot at this, so live everyday like it’s your last because one day it actually will be.