A MinD in MoTown

Happy (Grand)father’s Day
June 22, 2009, 2:57 pm
Filed under: Cross your fingers, Ma famille

I debated whether or not to write this – and I’m still arguing with myself as I type – because delving into my personal life here is typically something I avoid. But the pull is strong, so I’ll write what I can and hope it turns out coherent.

For the last several months, my grandfather (my mother’s father) has been battling prostate cancer. And speaking to him last night, on Father’s Day, as he told me he had only ten days left of radiation, I couldn’t help but think of a million amazing memories with him that have made this process hard on me despite the tough exterior I reveal.

…Damn it. I’m crying already.

From going to chip-and-putt to the days he’d pick my brother and I up at daycare, promptly at 5:30 p.m. The vanilla milkshake he always ordered when we’d eat at Burger King. The morning breakfasts we’d occasionally share before I went to school. The way he likes his coffee – no cream, two teaspoons of sugar. The crazy songs on the juke box that he’d sing, including “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” and how he’d call my grandmother from work and leave her messages of “their” song: “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”

This is the man who first introduced me to computers and taught me how to properly type. The man who comprises every ounce of Italian blood I possess. The man who lightheartedly claims his favorite color is “sky blue pink,” who makes the BEST breakfast-for-dinner meals, and who jokingly says:

Grandpa: My best friend is Sobby Beymour.
Me: You mean Bobby Seymour?
Grandpa: That’s what I said: Sobby Beymour.

Although I’ve had considerably less time with my grandfather than my mother and grandmother, the two people I talk to most frequently about his cancer, it pains me to know that he’s waging this war daily. But because of the relationships they both have with him, I try to be the hard-shelled girl who listens and says, “he’s going to be okay” and “he’ll get through this,” instead of adding my worries to the mix. After all, prostate cancer has such a high cure rate that it’s difficult not to look at this optimistically, even if that confidence sometimes falters.

It wasn’t an irregular conversation with my grandfather last night, nor was it terribly long. But in the brief minutes of our phone call, it was just me and him. I wasn’t really calling for my grandmother and saying “hey” to my grandpa as I waited for her to come to the phone. I wanted to speak to him, to wish him the best this Father’s Day, and to selfishly hear him say he was feeling okay, even if I knew he’d be lying to me. And at the end of that phone call, I told him I loved him, and he said it back. For many, that’s normal, but growing up, “I love you, too” was not something my grandfather would utter often. I’d always say those three words first, and he’d reply with, “Me too,” to which I’d remark, “I know you love yourself grandpa, but ‘do you love me’ is the question.” He’d just laugh it off and say some form of “yes,” but each time he replies with “I love you, too,” it’s nothing short of amazing.

Crap. More tears. No wonder this is taking four hours to write.

He’s a short full-blooded Italian man with some spunk, I’d say, and it saddens me to see my jovial grandfather so downtrodden as a result of this cancer. The man who would play golf three times each week, or more, and play around on his computer for hours now remains exhausted and miserable. My grandmother tells me he’s constantly depressed, wanting to throw in the towel and accept death as his fate. That breaks my heart, yet I keep those thoughts bottled in, refusing to believe this 74 year old man will ever leave this earth, let alone in the near future. After all, since the day I was born, he’s been the most consistent father figure in my life. How could he not be there one day?

And now I can’t stop crying… Writing this at work was really stupid. 

When my mom told me the news – as I sat in the drive thru of Taco Bell – my immediate reaction was “should I come home?” She told me not to, and somewhere in my mind I knew that wouldn’t do much good regardless. But at times like these, the 500 miles seems like a trillion. Being so far away and unable to help him get through this, I’m left with few options in showing him my care, concern and fervent hopes for the absolute best outcome. The devices I’m left with, cards and phone calls, likely do little, but hopefully it’s enough for him to realize that his battle never leaves my mind and I’m sending him lots of love and prayers – yep, prayers – every day.

As these last two weeks of radiation wind down, my entire family will probably remain on edge, crossing our fingers that the cancer has been eradicated. Until then, I’m going to do my best to be the rock they – especially and primarily my grandmother – need right now, the one who refuses to believe any options other than remission are possible. I’m not fooling myself, I know what could happen. But I also know the odds, and with them in his favor, I’ll be the cheerleader, I’ll be the optimist, I’ll be the believer.

… Truth be told, I’m just not ready to stop hearing my grandpa say “I love you, too.” I waited my entire childhood for those four syllables, and I’m not ready in the least bit to never hear them again.

10 Comments so far
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beautifully written and extremely touching.

all i can say say is that i will pray for him as well and to cherish every second you have with him. with your mom and your grandmother.

for those who are healthy, don’t wait to show them you care.

Thanks hun. Any and all prayers are welcome!

Comment by nina

Its tough to see a loved one, especially a heroic figure of your life, slowly weaken and begin to struggle. I wish him good health!

So very tough to see. I can’t wait for this to be over!

Comment by omegaradium

this was so wonderfully well-written and expressed.

I will keep your grandfather in my thoughts.

Thanks hun!

Comment by thatShortChick

This is beautiful, hon. I’m so sorry you’re going through this… I don’t think we’re ever really ready to say goodbye to amazing people like him.

That’s for sure. The odds say he’ll be fine, but he is 74. It really puts things into perspective that I never really considered before.

Comment by LiLu

This was really touching. I’m so sorry you all are going through this and I hope for the best. You and your family are in my thoughts! Hang in there.

Thank you! And I’m working on staying strong. Luckily it’s almost over, or so we all hope!

Comment by hautepocket

Hope is what we need in this life and if you are going to live in hope, then so be it. I am so happy you are being optimistic and strong for your other family members. I’m sure they greatly appreciate it. Your grandfather is very lucky.

Prayers, always.

It may not be easy being strong, but it feels so necessary at this point. Thanks for the prayers though. I appreciate it! I’m sure my whole family does.

Comment by Akirah

That was so sweet. And well written. You may or may not have made me well up a few times. I sincerely hope that your grandpa kicks cancers arse.

So do I! And sorry to make you tear up a bit… You know, IF I did…

Comment by Lost Artist

I’m so sorry, I wish I cherished my grandfather more when he was alive. I hope your grandfather could get better, he sounds like a very lovely person.

I hope he’s that cheery, happy-go-lucky guy again after this. I really do. And I wish I were back home to actually spend time with him. Knowing I can’t be is hard at times like these.

Comment by Andhari

[…] For the last several months, my grandfather (my mother’s father) has been battling prostate cancer. And speaking to him last night, on Father’s Day , as he told me he had only ten days left of radiation, I couldn’t help but think of a million amazing … The devices I’m left with, cards and phone calls, likely do little, but hopefully it’s enough for him to realize that his battle never leaves my mind and I’m sending him lots of love and prayers – yep, prayers – every day . …Continue Reading […]

Pingback by Mother’s Day » Blog Archive » Happy (Grand)Father’s Day « a Mind in Motown

This was so beautifully written, and definitely hit a spot with me. I lost my grandfather when I was 9 years old, and although I didn’t have a lot of time with him, I have some great memories, and I cherish the fact that i have memories of him at all, when my younger cousins unfortunately dont.

I am glad that I have a million memories with him, and hopefully more to come. I don’t know how it is to have lost someone important at a young age, and I’m grateful that is. But sometimes it’s sad that knowing others didn’t get the time I have is what it makes me realize how lucky I am in reality.

Comment by pintsize72

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