Sunday, December 25, 2011
Christmas Eve Morning
It's been a while since I mentioned Grandpa. He's still ticking, though some days the boundary between death and life stretches pretty thin. This is another in a long string of "Last Christmases" he has stuck around for, each one better than the last, though each one finding him weaker and less alert.
Living in Death's shadow for so long has left us with a few oddities, not that we were so normal to start with. What follows, though it happened to land on Christmas Eve this time, is fairly typical of several days out of every week.
See, Grandpa has now been diagnosed with two, count 'em - TWO fatal conditions. One is his heart, where one or more unnoticed heart attacks left him with only a teeny tiny bit of living heart tissue. We found out about that more than a year-and-a-half ago, The doctor said there were no statistics for men Grandpa's age with a heart so bad, as they were all already dead. He said that, if Grandpa were 50, he would give him a year to live.
Then, a bit over 6 months ago, Grandpa was additionally diagnosed with some kind of blood cancer. I forget the name, but basically, the problem is in his bone marrow. His marrow produces blood cells, but the cancer prevents an increasing number of them from maturing. Those "toddler cells" end up clogging up more and more of the production line, resulting in anemia that just keeps getting worse. The doctor said the life expectancy is usually six months.
So now, Grandpa has outlived both his original year, and his six months. He has grown worse and worse, now bedbound and unable to walk. He regularly almost dies, but somehow finds the strength to soldier on a little longer.
Hospice was going to babysit Grandpa for a few hours, long enough for us to take part in the third Christmas program this month. We had already practiced all the songs for the community Christmas program, so everything was perfectly ready.
Until nearly all of us got sick.
By the grace of God, our dreadful colds hadn't impaired our singing voices, so after a few days of concern, our part in the program remained intact.
Until Grandpa tried to die. Again.
On the way out to the car, he lost consciousness before ahem, spoiling his lovely new Christmas outfit with a round of nausea. As usual, his will to live prevailed, but his trip to town had to be cancelled. So did our tenor part (Mom), and the pianist for two of our three songs (also Mom).
All's well that ends well, even if a few modifications had to be made. Our trio became a duet, I played for the kids' song, and our quartet became a lovely reading about the birth of Christ. The other families at church participated beautifully, and then, and then....
I think it's fairly safe to say that luaus are few and far between out here on the plains, much less vegetarian luaus. It was a worthy feast, indeed, and everyone enjoyed it, except Mom.
Tina took some home for Mom, so she would have enjoyed it, except for one thing. She had just reached the stage of sickness where she lost her sense of taste. "Mmmm, mmmm," she exclaimed bitterly. "Christmas texture."
My heart was sad for her. Very, very sad. Not too sad to keep me from chewing my way through every blissful second.
After all, SOMEONE needed to enjoy it.
Too sick to have adventures,