He was on the loo when he had a nose bleed, and his medication thins his blood so it was like a scene from the Walking Dead. Quite literally.
My grandfather is really old. 90 to be precise.
He doesn’t look like one of those people you see and think ” holy shit, you’re 90? You don’t look a day over 80.”
He did, not that long ago but time has sped up for him of late and now he looks ancient.
He has lost almost all sharpness, almost all movement but he is still with us. Covered in bruises, and often gets sores, he has fluid on his lungs and kidneys that are ready to go on a long vacation.
She is bone weary, and she is struggling with her own health problems but she soldiers on in nursing her husband of 60 years in his final months.
This is very personal stuff and maybe they’d hate me airing it but no one one really talks about dying. They talk about life and then they talk about the dearly departed.
Some people the talk about people with illness and prolonged illness and death, but what about just dying of old age and this fading away until you barely exist?
They say growing old is a privilege, and to anyone who lost someone prematurely I will say I agree, but this… This?
Is this extreme old age and prolonged existence a privilege?
I’m not a good grand daughter. I don’t visit regularly or take my grandparents soup so I’m not writing this asking for condolences about my Grandpa. He is a good man and we’ve had our differences, but seeing him like this is shocking.
We put our old decrepit animals down but we cling to our people until they lose every scrap of dignity and leave the world similar to the babies they were when they arrived.
It’s strange to me. It’s made me think about my mortality and what I would like in his situation.
I would like a big fat wake while I was alive. I would make all of the guests dance for me, because I presumably would no longer be up for shuffling much let alone busting actual shapes on the floor.
I would smile at them dancing because humans moving to pop music is both joyous and ridiculous and then they would talk about their fondest memories of our lives together.
They would drink spirits, because wine is not for wakes, and over whiskey toasts we would laugh and maybe cry and I would tell everyone how much they’ve meant to me along my journey and we would hug.
I don’t want that kind of fun happening when I’m dead and can’t appreciate it. I want to be there for such a celebration of a life.
My grandfather’s 90th birthday was a similar affair minus the joyous dancing and whiskey. But it was a celebration that suited him with a spectacular slide show of his life. His triumphs were there on the big screen, as was his family and friends from all of the eras he had lived through.
The eras were evident in the fashion and the hairstyles, the babies becoming adults and having babies themselves.
The great grandchildren. And the great-grandchildren. See what I did there?
It was a jolly affair, and it was whispered amongst the guests that he would probably not have a 91st birthday.
I don’t know what he wants, maybe he’s content with these twilight days of napping almost continuously and constant falling, and strange bleeds.
Maybe he’s just not ready to go, but I hope when it’s me in the adult diapers and nary a shred of dignity left after this glorious life I have lived, I hope, there will be another choice.
Euthanasia is not a sexy topic. In fact, it’s pretty hushed in most places but having a mother, a hero, with a degenerative disease such as MS has meant it’s not a taboo topic in our homes.
If I’m completely honest it’s not often spoken of stone cold sober but you can bet your arse it’s been hashed out time and again through red wine stained lips. It’s not a Pinot Gris chat, more like a bold Shiraz.
It’s a complex issue due to the legalities and red tape that would need to be in place, but I believe the legislative complexities would be worth it in order to allow people to die with the same dignity with which they live their lives… Hell, even the undignified deserve to die with a shred.
My nana would not make the choice, I don’t believe, for as bone weary as she may be, she’s also scared and heartbroken at the thought of the man who walked beside her for 60 odd years no longer being there. He drives her nuts, always has, but it’s that kind of nuts you keep coming back for.
She would now sit by his bedside for another 20 years if that’s how long it took, but I don’t think I would ask that of someone. I guess if I’m privileged enough to reach ancient I’ll have to think about it then.