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When the end is near

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck


Getting old sucks.

There just isn’t any two ways around it.  I’m not talking about transitioning from your 20’s to your 30’s, or moving up to some arbitrary age that makes you “feel” slightly older.  I’m speaking of when you become so old that your body simply doesn’t work any longer, and it begins to fail, and you begin the process of dying.  It’s a miserable thing to have to endure, and it’s a painful and terrible thing for those that love you to have to watch. 

Traci still has all of her biological Grandparents still alive and on this Earth for the moment, although that moment will not be for long.  On her father’s side, Lucille Jaeger (her dad’s mother) is now 98 years of age, and has been in hospice care for the better part of two months.  She’s spent the last year in and out of the hospital, devoid of mobility, and suffering from Alzheimer’s/Dementia.  For the last 5 or 6 months, she’s been unable to get out of bed as she can’t seem to remember much of anyone at all, or even muster enough energy to stay awake during any of our visits to their house.

On her mother’s side it is Dan Darling (her mother’s father) lives next door to us.  Dan has been on oxygen for longer than I can remember, has been bed ridden for more than a week, and hasn’t been able to take more than a couple of steps without getting so winded he must sit.  His breathing is extremely labored, and just yesterday he took a tumble out of bed.  Traci called me while I was picking up the kids from school and let me know that a fire truck and ambulance had made its way to their house, and took Dan to a nearby hospital after the fall, and basically gave a grim diagnosis.

The reality of human beings is the same for everyone.  Eventually, death will meet us.  And it pains me to not only see Traci’s Grandparents, whom I’ve come to know and love, endure the pain that they’re having to bear at the moment.  Death is just not simply an easy process for those that are imminently approaching their end, and it is even more difficult for those, like Traci that love the people that are so near to meeting their maker.

Making matters more difficult is watching the pain being endured by Robert (Lucille’s husband) and Barbara (Dan’s wife), who collectively have been married for more years than any human on earth will ever be alive, are now watching their partner of so many years fail to be with them any longer.  While we take solace in knowing that their separation will be temporary, and that eventually in eternity we’ll be reunited, it leaves little but the agony as they watch the person that they love so desperately, helpless to do anything other than watch them suffer.

Like I said, getting old sucks.

At the end of the life of these two great people, all we can do is reflect on all of the wonderful times in life that they were there for us and loved us.  We can bask in the memories of all the joyous occasions that we shared with them, the times that they made us smile, and the prevailing feeling of love that they so freely gave.  In the end, we will remember them not through the pain or the suffering that they endured in their final days, but for all the good that they accomplished through their lives.  While their end is imminently closer than we would like, they are survived with an imprint of themselves as we look to Traci’s parents, their siblings, and all of the grandchildren that came as a result of their existence.  These people, who are still with us for this short time here on earth, are here because they were here first.  And as they grow towards their finish line, it becomes somewhat easier to say, “they used everything that God gave them.”  And now it’s time to go home.

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