It's 4am and I Must Need Coffee

I've ghettoed my Grandpa's bed.

It's 4am and we've decided we need a bath and some new warm jammies, and I cannot find where mom has his clean sheets stored.

So I may or may not have grabbed the set of full-size sheets from his bedroom and wrestled them onto his new twin-size hospital bed, tucking in the corners and pretending it's what I meant to do all along.

That's right. Grandpa is in a hospital bed. He's parked in the living room where he can be a part of the family and look out the window, even though he keeps telling us he wants to be left alone.

And if you know anything about Polish men, you know they're stubborn and usually get their way.

So now I'm sitting on the sofa within earshot in case he needs anything, drinking a huge mug of coffee since I'm coming off my second night shift in a row with him.

He gave me permission to use his favorite Notre Dame mug.

We're not sure what to think. Last September his doctor gave him six months and hospice was called in because Grandpa thought the idea of surgery/chemo/radiation was ridiculous at his age, and he just wanted to be left alone to live out his days in the comfort of his own home.

Plus, he used to love coffee and cake and cookies for breakfast, and everyone knows that hospital coffee sucks.

Formerly from South Bend, Indiana, his Missouri residence still looks like Notre Dame threw up on it. He bleeds blue and gold, so very comfortable in his familiar surroundings.

And he's done great at home, living fairly independently up until recently right across the backyard from mom and dad - absolutely no pain, no agitation, no nausea...just the typical decreased appetite and increased weakness.

As hard as it is to watch him lose his strength and independence, it's such a blessing that that's all that's going on.

It's been hard for him, losing his independence and having to rely on others for help. I think he put Polish hexes on the family when we brought in the hospital bed, but we couldn't risk more falls. He hated it until he discovered he loves sleeping with the head of the bed elevated. It looks...interesting,  but who am I to tell him what to do? Let him make what few choices he can still make.

I love being here with him. He gave his nurse and my parents a scare last week and everyone said to come home as soon as possible.

So I did, Florida to Missouri at the drop of a hat. Jesus loves you, Southwest Airlines.

I walked into his house Thursday evening with mom and dad, and what do I see? He's sitting on the sofa with his caregiver, and immediately smiles and says "Addie!" when he sees me.

Right there. Right there is worth the entire trip.

He hasn't been eating and his weight loss is shocking. I have to restrain myself from going into Nurse Mode, and instead sit down next to him and just chill and relax in Granddaughter Mode. It's hard. Very hard. I want to check his blood pressure, his heart and lungs, go over his comfort meds...but I don't. I put on my pajamas and snuggle with him and we eat a small bowl of ice cream, one of the few bites he's eaten in days.

We make a mess and laugh and promise each other we won't tell mom.

Then he's tired. He's now in a wheelchair for any sort of distance, and luckily I can work those things like a pro. Nursing school training at work right there, people.

His hospice nurse stopped by yesterday telling us what we already know - take it day-by-day. It took everything in me to keep my mouth shut and not say "I'm a hospice nurse too!! Let me tell you my observations and let's compare the real notes!!"

But I didn't. I don't want to be one of those crazy nurse family members...because I hate encountering them myself. I'm just here as a granddaughter, happy to fill in as the night shift, sleeping not too far from his side, holding his hand and giving him a sip of water now and then, wrapped in his Notre Dame blanket.

And ghettoing the bed when needed. Obviously.

Missouri Trip Part III - Fireflies and Lake Houses

I'm home now. Just rolled back into Florida, and I really never want to see the inside of a car again for a very long time.

Or at least until Monday when I have to drive around to my patients houses again. Yay.

I had a fabulous time with my family. Really, really great. This was, after all, a strictly family-based vacation since I haven't seen any of my side of the family since February when my parents came to visit.

So....warning: We are about to go down a really, really sappy branch of memory lane.

You know what I really missed about Missouri?

Those fantastic Midwest thunderstorms that roll in and stick around for awhile. Florida does get some pretty spectacular storms, but they're usually over in about five minutes. Minus the hurricanes.

We had one while I was there.

And of course, Dad and I go out into the driveway to look up at the sky as big, fat raindrops splash us in the face and the lightening crisscrosses the sky.

Obligatory funeral home shot right there, folks.

We used to do the same thing when the tornado sirens went off, which is probably why I'm petrified with even the smallest tornado watch alert.

Then again, when you grow up where I did, not much freaks you out.

I also missed the fireflies. For some reason, Florida just doesn't have them.

My parent's backyard right now has millions. It's gorgeous. It reminds me of family BBQs and catching fireflies in jars and bonfires and s'mores.

My cousin Andrew and I also discovered you could smash the fireflies and smear their light trail on your arms. You could also make glow-rings out of their butts. We were cool like that.

I took some pretty spectacular firefly video, but it won't upload to the blog. So trust me. It was amazing.

What else did I miss? For as long as I can remember, we've always had a place at the Lake of the Ozarks. Many summer mornings we would load up friends and swimsuits and sunscreen and head for the Lake for a day, a long weekend, a week, etc. So this trip back, we decided to go visit our favorite places.

This is my home-away-from-home.

So many memories here.

My old bedroom in the loft. I loved waking up to the smell of mom making coffee. The sound of dad snoring until noon when we would wake him up to go swimming or for him to make his famous salsa eggs.

Summers at the Lake meant staying up late whispering to my sister about the cute boys we saw down on the docks. Nighttime boat rides to watch the fireworks at Tan-Tar-A. Swimming in the pool because I refuse to swim anywhere there are fish, sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee while watching the sun rise over the bluffs.

Trips to Randy's. Always the trips to Randy's.

No matter how close I live to the ocean, I will always hold the Lake in my heart. I'm a Lake Girl. 

It was so great to be able to reminisce with my family this week. We might be getting older, but in my mind we're all still stuck in the '90's!! 

Today I love: Getting home to my puppies (I would say Matt, but he won't arrive until tomorrow)! What I don't love is the dog hair everywhere since we don't board the dogs when we're gone. They have complete run of the house with the pet sitter, which means the rest of the night I'll be vacuuming up dog hair and deodorizing the couches. Yay me!

Stay tuned for more Missouri Adventures...


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Baseball coach's wife. RN. Former Midwestern girl living in southern Florida. Jesus freak. Lover of all things puppy.