Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rest in Peace, Grandpa

Grandpa & I, circa 1984

After a long 84 years here on earth, my grandfather passed away on Wednesday, June 10th.

He definitely had a great & memorable life. He was married to his sweetheart for 62 loving years, had to children, 3 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren (including Ashley). He was fully aware that Ashley would be born in August and I think he was trying hang on just to see her be born and grow up. Now he can look down from heaven and see her anytime he'd like.

After learning that he had been admitted to the hospital on Monday night, I drove down to San Diego on Tuesday afternoon. Due to a leak in his feeding tube that was tapping into this stomach, he had developed a massive infection in his abdomen area. Because of his age and condition (suffering a stroke about 3 months before), the doctors were unsure about even administering antibiotics to him. He definitely would not be able to survive another surgery to try and remove any of the toxins.
When I arrived to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, my grandma, mom and uncle were already in his room. I walked in and my grandpa opened his eyes. He looked at me and said, "I love you". My grandma asked him if he knew who I was and he quietly said, "She's one of my sweethearts." After his stroke he sometimes had a hard time recalling peoples' names, but definitely knew who they were and that they were important to him. Those were the last words he said to me. We left the hospital that evening and headed back to my grandma's house.
The next day (Wednesday), we headed back to the hospital after we at breakfast. By then, my dad and great-aunt had joined us at the hospital. My brother had left Arizona around 9:00am and was making the 7+ hour trip to San Diego. My grandparents' pastor had spoken to the family earlier in the week and encouraged everyone to tell him that you loved him, tell him that we will all be okay and take care of each other and it's okay and he can let go.
I think it was one of the most heart wrenching ordeals I had ever been through. I went through plenty of kleenex, that's for sure. To see my grandma go up to his bedside and look into his eyes, tell him she loved him, and that it was okay to let go...that just got me all worked up. You could see the deep, unending love in both of their eyes and just feel the love and power between them. I couldn't imagine having to do that.
We had been at the hospital for a few hours and lunch time started to roll around. We were hesitant about leaving, but my grandma kept telling us that we needed to eat. She and my great-aunt said together in the room where my grandpa was. Reluctantly, my mom, dad, uncle and I headed to the hospital cafeteria. We had just barely sat down and began to eat when my great-aunt comes rushing in and tell us to pack up our stuff and come back to the room. He was nearing his last breaths. She darted back to the room and we began to pack up our food and head back. By the time we reached his room, we were probably about 20 seconds too late and the nurse was confirming the lack of heart beat.
It was a very tough thing to have happen. Cuong called shortly after he had passed and I could barely compose myself to tell him what was going on. A little while later, Cuong met us at the hospital.

He will most definitely be missed. He was the type of grandpa who had unending stories to tell. I don't think I had heard very many of them twice. He would tell us about his days serving in the Army in WWII, in the Philippines and in New Guinea. About the native people they would come across, the wild animals they would have for dinner, the gigantic snakes in the trees, the beautiful orchids that were covering the waterfalls, etc. He had so many experiences and so much knowledge to share.
Things won't be the same without him, but I know he is in a much better place now. He can look down on all of us and we'll know he's always there. He'll be there in the thunder (bowling a strike!), in the gentle breeze and in the refreshing rain.


Anonymous said...

Lauren, this post literally moved me to tears. You have such great memories of him, and I know he'll be there next to God, watching you as your raise Ashley and all your babies.
My Mom told me that we all needed to tell my Grandma that it was ok for her to let go, too. But I wasnt able to do it. Its not that I wanted her to hold on, I just wasnt able to compose myself to get the words "Its ok, you can let go" out of my mouth. I cant imagine that kind of strenth it would take to say that to a spouse of 62 years.
Your family is in my prayers, let me know if I can do anything at all for you.

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