My Grandfather is in the Hospice. I went to see him today. I haven't seen him in about a month as we've been busy birthing babies and looking after wee kiddies. In that meantime, he's had an asthma attack and has spent some time in hospital until a bed at the Hospice became available. He's become much frailer since my last visit.
He's kind of - fading away. His body hasn't been working right for some time. It can't hold his weight; it's not giving him cues such as appetite or hunger; his eyes are failing; his hearing is going; he has trouble staying asleep. Trouble is, his mind is as perfect as it ever was.
He is a complete expert in how sickness is affecting his body. He knows what he wants; knows what he needs; has opinions and requests and articulates them all. Sometimes he only hears what he wants to hear, but we all do that sometimes. He knows how important it is to eat so he tries to keep doing that too. He is still up for a visit and a good chat - so that's not changed.
Today two nurses came in to help him from his chair back into bed. The dark haired nurse asked him if he still wanted to get back into his bed and her lovely Glaswegian accent reminded him of a song. He sung quietly - he doesn't have the lung capacity for any volume - the nurse joined in, and together they sung Old Glasgow Town.
He's still quite the party animal. He's coming home tomorrow.
After he was tucked under the quilt on his bed, we noticed the CD player and asked Granddad if he wanted to listen to some music. He likes to watch TV but the remote is different from his one at home and it confuses him. There was only on CD in the room - Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits. My Aunt went out to the nurses station to see if she could score a different one.
I mentioned to Granddad while we were waiting that I had never considered him a "Kenny Rogers" sort. He said he wasn't, but that he'd met him once.
Now, I had to remind myself that this man is as sharp as he's ever been, so he wasn't making stuff up - well sometimes he does so I questioned him further, just to make sure. He told me the story of having a party at the house they lived in Rotorua. A (then) local talent (later a national treasure) Howard Morrison came along to the party and brought with him this shaggy-haired American called Kenny Rogers. Granddad said he didn't talk to him much but he seemed nice enough.
It's amazing you know, of all the hundreds and hundreds of stories my Grandfather has told me over the years - he can still come up with a new one (and apparently even true ones) at the ripe age of 95.
Check out the first section of Rolling Through New Zealand With Kenny Rogers and the First Edition for the fashion and the decor, then check out the second one for the dancing.
The ambulance brought Grandad home on Saturday afternoon. They wheeled him in on a stretcher and helped him into his chair in the lounge - he didn't want to go to bed.
He sat in his chair and watched TV. He's always followed the horses, and he did so all afternoon with the volume on one million! but we didn't mind. He ate some dinner, and he had a cup of tea, and he watched TV and talked to us and just generally hung out.
We were really surprised at how late he stayed up - past 11pm. My Aunt asked him how come he could stay up so late now when he couldn't at the Hospice, and he said because here he has company.
Brother-in-law: Grandad, you're looking really good today.
Grandad: Looks aren't everything.
Brother-in-law: Oh I don't know - they're what made me fall for your granddaughter.
Grandad: That's what I mean.
Today he seemed really happy. He was chatty, and ate two boiled eggs for lunch. Two!
After watching Walk the Line on tv, and noting that the movie ended in "a funny spot" he made a joke about the temperature of the room. My uncle had a new fire box installed and it's been so super hot we've been sweltering.
Tonight was the first time in a long time I heard my grandfather laugh.
It's nearly half past 11pm again and he's only now getting ready to go to bed. My Brother-in-law and my Uncle lift him into his wheel chair, and he's being made comfortable in his bed, will take his medicine and will sleep.
Having him home, and being here with him, is really good.