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Opa dead

2003-05-29 18:10:17.274789+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

My last remaining grandparent just died. Opa lived in the same town his entire life, the same house for most of it, was a volunteer fireman there. He taught me how to play poker, some things about patience, and Charlene and I got a chance to visit him back in January. Not unexpected, and while he had regrets, I think he understood them and had come to terms with them.

[ related topics: Dan's Life Gambling Dan & Charlene's January 2003 New York Trip ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-06-04 16:32:10.495134+00 by: ziffle

I want to say something - but I don't know what to say - I am sorry your Opa died. Learning about patience from your grandfather is a wonderful event - I never had, so I am sure you treasure the memories. Sorry for the loss.


#Comment made: 2003-06-05 04:35:12.379563+00 by: Shawn

Same problem I have. Don't know what to say that doesn't seem... contrite. But I do recognize the loss.

#Comment made: 2003-06-05 05:23:34.728347+00 by: Dan Lyke

I suppose I don't know how to react either. It's not like death is unexpected, but unless we mourn someone when we meet them for the pain that parting will cause, it's hard not to have a reaction for the loss.

I do, however, feel that when a life has been lived up to the expectations of the one living it, with few regrets, and a sustained ability to tell good stories, then there's little more anyone can ask than to go gentle into that good night.

Although some of what he taught me is related to things I distinctly don't want in my life, I think he mostly lived what he wanted.

#Comment made: 2003-06-17 19:42:55.623232+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

This last weekend I gained a new empathy for this kind of thing. I've always believed that death is a natural part of the cycle, and I still do, but seeing my uncle's condition threw me for a loop. I've been hearing bits and pieces of news about how he had a leg wound that wouldn't heal and how he's been in and out of the hospital over the last few years. But with the first marriage of his sons the bride's family paid to have an ambulance and RN bring him to the wedding.

The Uncle I remember was a big, booming, cheerful man. Now... now I know exactly what "death warmed over" looks like. The realization that he could very well die any day, and that he would be the closest person to me yet to do so, was staggering.

May you remember your Opa long and well, Dan.

#Comment made: 2003-07-13 04:41:00.338246+00 by: Shawn

...and now he's gone.

I'd like to set up a memorial page for my uncle, with a sunset for the background. Unfortunately, I don't have a good sunset picture. Does anybody have a nice sunset they wouldn't mind contributing?

#Comment made: 2003-07-13 05:22:28.206933+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oddly, I'm working on a photo categorizer now. In the 2500 or so images I'm trying to make sense of I'm sure I've got a sunset or two in there, although I don't think I've caught any of the truly spectacular ones, but I'll try to dig up something for ya.

#Comment made: 2003-07-13 15:06:30.838583+00 by: ebradway

I've got a couple from the Florida Keys and from a beach just south of San Fran. There isn't anything spectacular about these sunsets for where they are, but they were pretty nice.

Chattanooga has been getting some great sunsets lately and I've been wanting to get out to Sunset Rock and get some shots.

#Comment made: 2003-07-13 15:29:38.238633+00 by: ebradway

I hadn't read this thread until now, so pardon the late response...

My remaining grandfather passed away a few years ago. His situation made everyone in my family staunch supporters of assisted suicide.

Gramp, like many people of his generation, had a very full life. Beginning with being abandoned by his parents to his aunt during the depression, through having his ship torpedoed while he was in the head during WWII. He was at his 'peak' when I was a child. He was a Teamster truck driver in New England. Gramp and Gram owned a big farmhouse in the Berkshires. The leased the farmland and barn to a man who raised race horses. As part of their deal to buy the house, they provided care for my 'Uncle Ray' (no real relation - just the prior owner of the house). Gramp had a large boat on Lake Champlain (the lake I both learned to swim and ice skate on).

Gramp developed prostate cancer a few years before his death. He was a proud man and was too embarassed to go to the doctor. He waited until he got blood poisoning from the urine backing up in his system. After chemo treatments and removal of his prostate, the cancer went into full remission. Two years later he developed congestive heart failure. He couldn't keep solid food down and refused to take an IV for food. After a couple months of his withering away (Heidi and I went to see him at Easter before he died - he was still able to get up and sit with us at dinner) the doctors admitted him to the hospital and found that he had developed bladder cancer as well. They could have saved him if they gave him an IV for food and removed his bladder. But he would have had to spend the rest of his life catheterized. He renewed his living will and DNR and was moved to a 'rehab'. He was put on a morphine pump.

At that point, it took Gramp a little over two months to die. He was conscious for a only a few minutes every day. He refused to have anyone in the room except my Grandmother. He was too embarassed of his condition. Gram said all he did was hold her hand and say 'I love you.'

Gramp was really ready to die when he first contracted prostate cancer. He even said so. He had no regrets. The only regret that I could imagine him having was having to live through the ordeal before finally passing away.

#Comment made: 2003-07-13 21:07:46.523653+00 by: Shawn

Eric, those'll be perfect for what I need. Thanks. Sorry your Gramp's last years were so painful.

#Comment made: 2003-07-13 22:06:40.290059+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

It's up. Thanks again, Eric (and Dan).