I drove to Winter Haven yesterday (sans kids!) to visit my grandparents. Despite I-4 traffic, I enjoyed the drive--control of the CD player means no Laurie Berkner or Veggie Tales, I get to sing as much as I'd like with Sandra McCracken, Jill Phillips, and Switchfoot, and I don't have to put my shoulder out trying to retrieve a toy someone's dropped. I had over an hour completely to myself--unheard of!
My purpose was to check up on my grandparents. Since I live the closest of any of their children or grandchildren, it's easier for me to visit them than any one else. Mom specifically wanted me to check on them before we leave for TX. So my mother-in-law graciously kept the kids for me so I could take a solo trip down there, take my grandmother out to lunch, and be the eyes and ears for the rest of the family.
On Mother's Day, when they joined us for Benjamin's baptism and lunch, we were all shocked at how pale and gaunt Grandpa looked. The radiation and chemotherapy has done a 1-2 punch on him. He already seemed to be aging quicker but in the last six months he's appeared ten years older. Seeing him again yesterday was difficult. I am taken aback each time at the sunken eyes, thinning hair, and slow movements. Now he has oxygen tubes around him to added to the well, sickly look. The image is jolting. I still expect him to look like the grandpa who played tennis several times a week and whose pants were being let out at the waist. I expect to hear him make witty and often caustic comments at the government, Wall Street, and various sports coaches. Yesterday there wasn't even one word about Billy Donovan from the grumpy ol' Gator.
It's hard to know that these are mostly likely his final years. I know God has been working in his heart over the past five years or so as he dealt with bladder cancer (almost 5 years cancer-free from that!) and now all this. This will be the most difficult death I'll have had in my life so far. I just hope it's later rather than sooner.