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Column: Mystery on the timing of endings

‘My grandfather died at the age of 69, one year before beating the “family curse” of not being able to live up to the age of 70.’

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“I knew my grandfather as the man who stayed busy, who always had a project to do and now he doesn’t.” Courtesy of Emma King.

As I open the heavy door leading inside the hospice, the faint hospital smell hits me as I survey my surroundings. To the right, my great aunt and uncles gather in a little waiting room that has baby blue and light yellow colors throughout. Pretending that nothing is wrong, my relatives force smiles as they give us long hugs.

My grandfather had become unresponsive to everything after he had a massive stroke in the hospital, where he had been waiting to have another open-heart surgery.

I try to hold my composure as I follow my father down a big, long hallway to the room where my grandfather is staying. I’ve been informed to be prepared to see him in a state I’d never seen him in, but at no time did I ever think he would look so different.

When I walk in, I first see my aunt sitting on a black couch. I watch as she stands up to hug me with a faint smile upon her lips. I look to the left and make eye contact with my grandmother who stands up from a light yellow recliner. She greets me with the same weak smile everyone has seemed to adopt and leads me to my grandfather, who is laying in a knock-off hospital bed with nothing hooked up to him.

I immediately notice is how pale he is. He used to be the darkest person in our family and now his skin tone is changed completely. I notice how staggered his breathing has become and how still he is. I knew my grandfather as the man who stayed busy and he always had a project to do, but now he doesn’t.

After four days, family members being saying their goodbyes because nurses think his time to pass is approaching. I want to stay strong for my family and be there for them when they need it, so when my grandmother says I should say my goodbyes, I can’t. I have to turn away and struggle to keep the tears from falling down my face. It’s my responsibility as the older, more responsible grandchild to drive the two younger ones home, so I have to hold my emotions back.

It took eight days for him to pass away, and I had numerous chances to say goodbye. Before leaving to go back to Lewisville, everyone started talking to him, letting him know they were there. Although it’s awfully tough for me, I touched his hand and forced a goodbye. That is the last time I saw him alive.

Last Friday, August 24, would’ve been my grandparents 50th anniversary. My grandfather died at the age of 69, one year before beating the “family curse” of not being able to live up to the age of 70. While he stayed in the hospice, my grandmother had a birthday we didn’t celebrate like we Redding’s normally would. A year before this mess, the entire family planned to go on a cruise, celebrating all the milestones that would be happening around this time: 50th anniversary, 70th birthday and my senior year. Now, that trip is cancelled and I’m OK with that because I had an awful feeling about it. After everything happened, the family vacation just felt unnecessary and our lives were changed forever.

How God chooses His timing is still a mystery to me but one thing’s for sure – it will all make sense in the end.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Column: Mystery on the timing of endings”

  1. Emma king on August 29th, 2018 6:12 PM

    This was amazingly beautiful. I love you so much. Pawpaw would love this so so much.

  2. C Redding on August 30th, 2018 10:23 AM

    Very well written Marissa and thank you for sharing. It was hard on all of us watching my father pass away. Thank you for thinking of him.

  3. Aunt Susan on August 30th, 2018 5:48 PM

    Thank you for writing down your thoughts and feelings Marissa. This is a beautiful writing.

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