Grandpa coded about an hour ago. Mom and Dad were on the way there and they got word that he’d passed.
He was a long time in dying — his body had been falling apart by degrees for a decade or so. Now I’ve got no grandparents left.
[EDIT: Okay, I’m home now and using Orville. I wrote the above from my phone in a McDonald’s. More details now.]
Yeah, so I was driving Michael to McDonald’s where he had to tutor someone, and I got a text on the way there. Once at the restaurant I checked my phone and it was Dad, saying Grandpa had coded and might be dead and he and Mom were on their way to the nursing home (he was discharged earlier today) to see what could be done.
A few minutes later Mom called to say Grandpa had died and she was still on her way there. When I visited her earlier today we had been talking about his impending demise (the doctors had estimated he had about a week left) and she had said she had no idea about getting a priest for the funeral. Grandpa’s Catholic; we are not.
From my current position at McDonald’s this was the only thing I could think of that I could help with, so I called Michael’s dad to ask for advice. David told me to call the church at the town the nursing home was in. I looked up the number and, of course, it was after office hours, but they had another number to reach in case of emergency.
I dialed that number and got the cell phone of a very nice man called Father Pat. I explained the situation and he said, “What’s your grandpa’s name? I probably know him.” It turned out Father Pat DID know Grandpa, visited him at the nursing home regularly, and had given him the sacraments just three weeks ago.
He asked what church Grandpa had attended in his pre nursing home days and I admitted I did not know. He told me to tell Mom to just tell the funeral home they wanted a Catholic funeral, and they would get a priest for her. He also suggested I text him Mom’s phone number so he could talk to her. Father Pat said it was very respectful and considerate that we should be considerate of Grandpa’s religious views for his funeral, given that they were not our own.
I thanked him for his advice and shared a few memories of Grandpa — I admit I didn’t know him very well. He was raised Catholic, I know. His mother died in childbirth (which child I’m not sure) and his father subsequently remarried twice. He had a zillion siblings and half siblings but I’m not sure I’ve ever met any of them. When Grandpa married Grandma, I know, his father and stepmother disowned him because Grandma was Protestant and divorced and had two kids by her ex-husband and it was the 1940s. They also told their other children not to have anything to do with him, but at least some of the kids ignored this and kept up contact on the sly.
Grandpa never talked much, I think because he had a cleft palate that never got corrected. It wasn’t visible because he grew a thick mustache and beard to cover it, but he had a noticeable speech defect — his voice was kind of like staticky radio. He talked even less after he moved into the nursing home, at least to us, but Father Pat said he was very talkative during their religious discussions. I’m glad Grandpa had at least one person he had a lot to say to.
He was a good man, my mother’s stepfather, and raised her from when she was six or seven years old, I think. Mom’s bio-dad didn’t amount to much as a parent or a human being, to say the least, but Grandpa stepped in to fill the gap. He legally adopted her when she was 17. Mom was like “what’s the point, I’m almost an adult anyway” but he really wanted to be her father in every sense of the word, so she consented and changed her last name to his.
After I hung up with Father Pat I texted him Mom’s number, then called Mom and told her about the conversation. She thanked me for looking into the matter and said it was one more thing after her mind. On the way home, Michael and I stopped at a store and bought some stuff, including a sympathy card each to give to my mother. Mine has a lovely watercolor scene on the front and says “You are in my thoughts. With deepest sympathy” inside.
Mom’s sister Nancy, Grandpa’s only other child (also a stepchild), died of cancer in 2010. Six weeks later, Grandma died too after 55 years of marriage. I’m sure Grandpa was quite devastated. With that and his health failing so badly he really didn’t have much quality of life in his final years.
This was a long time coming. Frankly I’m glad of it.