Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jake The Great

I took my Mom to see my 100 year old Grandpa Jake today.  He is recovering from a hip fracture at a facility in Rhode Island.  Seeing him today I realized how much has changed since I last saw him in April.

I brought him Fig Newtons and Anna's Ginger Cookies, and he didn't want anything to do with them.  These are some of his favorite things.  He isn't eating unless you force feed him, he doesn't want to do the rehab exercises, and he sits in his wheelchair leaning forward.  He looked so tired.   He says that his legs don't work anymore.  I think he is afraid because his leg gave out on him when he fell and broke his hip.   Looking at him it seems like he is just furious at his body for giving out on him. 

My uncle and aunt have been by his side since his fall a few weeks ago, and I guess this behavior is new as of 2 days.  It is throwing us all for a loop.  This man is a stubborn Swede, just like me, and seeing him despondent and giving up was so difficult for me.

My grandfather raised his family as a gas station owner in Rhode Island for many years.  He rode his bicycle 10 miles a day into his late 80s and lived on his own until he was 98 years old.  His goal in life was always to reach 100 years old so that he could have Breakfast with the Governor of Rhode Island.  Last year, he had his day.

On his 100th birthday this last year, he told us all that he was going to live until he was 110 years old now.  We all thought that sounded good to us.  Today, as he lay in his hospital bed, he prayed that he would live a long time.  That tells me that despite his despondency and fear about his walking status, he is still in there.

About a half way into our visit, I knelt down in front of his wheelchair, and said, "Do you know who I am?"  He looked at me like I was half-dumb, and said laughing, "You're Jeanne.  How could I forget you?"  I smiled in relief, but I also know that he will not always remember me, but I hope he remembers how much I love him.  As I left today, I said "I love you." into his ear.  He said, "I love all my family."

Isn't he a beautiful Swede?

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