Around Christmas time my grandpa became ill. He collapsed early in the morning and was rushed to the hospital. They found out his body was full of infection and while we were worried, he’s a tough guy who’s battled many things in his life so we didn’t think it was too serious.
A few days went by and he was still in the hospital. They couldn’t get his blood cell counts within normal range and at the same time we learned his lung cancer was back. There was a chance he wasn’t going to be coming home for the holidays which meant no Christmas Eve at my grandparents, for the first time in our lives. Things were serious!
Luckily the meds he was taking improved conditions enough that he could come home for Christmas. I was relieved, but also worried that it might be too soon and our large, overwhelming family would be too much for him to handle. When we got there he was visibly ill and I worried that we shouldn’t be there, but then I remembered how important his family is to him. No matter the conditions, he was going to be there with us that night!
Our entire family is very close, so I’m sure each one of us feels that we have a special connection with grandpa, but I feel like he & I have always understood each other. He comes off as a stern man, but if you truly know him, you know he’s soft. You can tell by looking into his soft brown eyes. He is also the pillar of our family. The one who is strong and bull headed and taught us all many things, including to never quit.
At one point in the night I sat with him to talk. It was just the two of us and I knew the conversation we were about to have was going to be an important one. As I held his hand he looked at me and said, “I don’t think I can do this anymore. I’ve been battling for so long, I don’t have any fight left in me.”
I’m a lot like my grandpa when it comes to being stubborn and never willing to quit, so I think he thought I was going to argue and lecture him on all the reasons he needed to keep pushing. I could have said all of those things, but instead I put aside my selfish need for him in my life and told him the choice was his. It almost killed me to say those words, but I knew it wasn’t my decision to make and that only he could decide to continue on.
Here we are almost 4 months later and he’s still here! Shortly after our talk, he made the choice to not quit and underwent an aggressive round of radiation for his cancer! He recently welcomed two more great-grand babies (twins) and he’ll watch another granddaughter walk down the aisle in a few months. I’m grateful for many things he’s given our family, but right now I’m most thankful for his fight and the choice he made to keep going for our family. I’m sure he is too!