I’ve been a hospital staff nurse for ten years, taking care of the acutely ill. But when it’s your grandmother asking, “what should I do to help him?!”, it’s completely different. My answer as a nurse would be, “These are the options the doctor has given you, (explain again x, y, z)”. My answer as a granddaughter, is very different.
My grandfather, Eli Samuel, was one of the two prominent male figures in my life while growing up. Living in a two family home, with my grandparents living down stairs for fifteen years, it was inevitable. As a minister for the United Methodist Church, he preached the word of God and did His work by helping areas, foreign and domestic, building new churches. But to me, he was grandpa.
I use past tense there, because for the last few years he and my grandmother had been dealing with his worsening dementia. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in March 2015.
Memorial Day weekend, my grandfather was admitted to a Philadelphia area hospital after he was found unresponsive in their hotel room. Three weeks later he passed away in arms of his wife of 57 years, holding his eldest granddaughter’s hand, the day after my birthday.
One in 9 older Americans
25 million globally
The Alzheimer’s website (alz.org) tells the world these staggering statistics.
My college pathology books tells me the signs and symptoms, etiologies, management, and nursing considerations when caring for these patients.
When your family member is affected, it all becomes too real. Every worse case scenario screams in your head. Every bad code, every horrible prognosis, every complication plagues your thoughts, and your dreams.
That’s us, on my first birthday. Now, I don’t remember that day, but it’s the one I’m gonna remember. Me with a crazy giggle, I’m sure, and him looking down on me with love, and a whole lot of patience.
I know my life will be different without him. Yet the faith that was exemplified by Rev. Eli Samuel Rivera, that, as Grandpa, he nurtured in his “kiddies” will help me and my family through another holiday without his presence.
My career has taught me to separate my personal opinions and feelings, and yet use them to provide compassionate care to those healing, or dying, while in my charge. It isn’t always easy. Patients I’ve treated since my grandfather’s passing, have brought me back to the decisions we made for him, versus the ones I see being made for those living with Alzheimer’s.
In the end, I’ve learned, yet again, that although life can suck sometimes, people can make decisions you disagree with and people can say things that you find appalling, but as my mother said in a previous post, “It’s been a good year. Every year is a good year when you get right down to it. If you are reading this post, you have been a part of my joy. I have prayed for you, I have laughed with you, you have been a part of my life no matter what. And I thank you.”
So, thank you Grandpa, I will probably cry hearing Jose Felicano’s Felix Navidad this year because every time I hear it, I think of you. I’m grateful you were in my life and I’ll think of you teaching Jesus that shuffle you called dancing. Ill be sure to do your shuffle while caring for my patients while I work this Christmas.