I went to visit my grandfather at the hospital yesterday.
He had checked himself in the day before due to chest pains. He was having difficulty breathing. And given how many times he had had heart surgery he wasn’t going to take any chances.
My mother called him yesterday morning and established what floor he was on, then we set off for the hospital.
Arriving in the spacious room with about thirty beds, I saw him. He was sitting on the bed, hunched over a few pieces of paper. He had not seen us.
The image struck me. He looked so vulnerable and alone. And the thing is, he is vulnerable and alone. He has a live-in helper, but that’s nothing compared to family.
He looked up, saw us, and put his papers away. My dad brought stools, and my mom and I sat down next to the bed. We sat with him for two hours, talking about this and that. My dad sat some distance away on the visitor’s bench, playing a game on his phone.
I was the one who suggested leaving. It was getting late afternoon and I wanted to sort through our DVD collection when I got home.
My grandpa was sad that we were leaving. He didn’t say anything, but you could feel it. As we walked away I looked back, and wished I hadn’t.
He looked dejected. There was no better word to describe the image that I saw. He was sitting alone on the bed, and loneliness weighed down around him.
The whole episode reminded me of the fact that I still have my grandpa, that he is alone in his house, far away from us, and that he could leave us at a moment’s notice.
I’ll call him today to check up on him. I’ll also make time to go visit him on my days off. There’s a bus I can take that goes straight to his house.
I hope for the sake of me and him that the image stays with me. So I never forget that I have one very important person I need to spend time with.
I will try my best not to forget. I really will. This is my promise to myself.
Let’s not forget our elderly relatives. Let’s love them and be with them as freely as we do our friends and colleagues.
Until next time,
A thoughtful Val