I recently spent a few days at my grandpa's house in Ripley, WV. Location wise, if you drew a compass on the state of West Virginia, Princeton would be around where the "S" would be written. Ripley is around where the "W" would be. It's right on the border of Ohio.
I blogged back in December that my grandpa had cancer and underwent surgery to remove his stomach, which contained some tumors. During the surgery, they realized that it had spread to several other areas of his body.
A lot of my friends don't like how openly I talk about death sometimes. But, I'm realistic about things. At 71-years-old, with no stomach, and a cancer-riddled body, he's basically sitting around waiting to die. It's rough to watch, but my mom is insistent that I make several trips up to see my grandpa waste away in front of me.
It's rough. When I first came down around the time of his surgery, I noticed that he had lost a little weight. With the cancer in his stomach, he couldn't keep anything down. Now, he has no stomach. I'm no doctor, so I can't go too in-depth with this, but they somehow rigged his intestines up to his throat. I initially saw something about this years ago on that Ripley's Believe it or Not! show. A guy had tried to commit suicide by drinking pipe cleaner. He survived, but it ate away at his stomach to the point where they had to remove it.
I saw him last week. He's lost roughly 60 pounds. His face is really thin and he's starting to get those thin anorexic-girl arms. He's around 6-feet tall and has weighed around 200 pounds for as long as I've been alive. He's always been in decent shape, but developed a little gut as he got older. He weighed himself on Saturday. He was down to 137 lbs. They then asked me to weigh myself. I'm around 5'5" and came in at 148. I weigh more than my grandpa does.
Over the years, my grandpa has collected quite a bit of stuff. The kind of stuff you initially look at and dismiss it as junk. But, it's also that same kind of stuff that sells for a lot of money on Ebay and is appraised for a lot of money on Antiques Roadshow. So, he's been talking about selling a lot of that stuff to help pay for his funeral. Stuff like antique cabinets, old pitchers, antique razors, old Elvis memorabilia, and assorted other knick knacks. Like, a 2-story house full of that stuff.
I've been doing fairly good at keeping my emotions in check, especially in front of my grandpa. I'm sure he wouldn't want to see me getting sad about seeing him like that. He was talking to me about selling all of his stuff, and said he'd like to help me out a little bit and asked what my debts were. I thought he meant that wanted to give me some extra cash to help get caught up on bills, so I thought for a second and added some numbers in my head. I told him my bills were about $500. He then told me that he meant school debt, which I realized meant he was talking about student loans. I gave him a ballpark estimate and he told me he'd see what he could do.
It really moved me and made me very emotional to realize that even in his last moments, he still wants to try and take care of me.
One of the hardest hardest things for me, though, is a completely mental one. My great grandma (my grandpa's mom) died when I was 8, when she was 82. I have no memories of her as anything other than an old, feeble woman. She walked around with a cane, but generally she was okay. Shortly before she died, her health took a turn for the worse and she had to use a walker to get around. So, I've always associated that in my head with her death. When I think of my healthy great grandma, I picture her with a cane. When I think of her before she died, she has a walker.
When I saw my grandpa shortly before his surgery, nobody really told me what to expect. I didn't know what kind of physical state he was in. I was just told to come see him. So, it really freaked me out when I saw him shuffling through the kitchen using a walker for support.
But, I've gotten used to that. I guess. I also guess I've gotten used to everything else about my grandpa's current condition. I'm not sure when I'm going to see him again. My mom has implied that every free day should be spent with my grandpa. She says these things, and she fails to remember that a two-hour drive, passing through three toll booths is not a financially-responsible drive to be making regularly. So, we'll see what happens with that.