When I packed, I pulled "my funeral dress" out of the closet. I didn't pack it, but I hung it sideways so that my husband could pack it when he came if necessary.
(Very messy closet, it's been busy...)
I am so glad I went home though. I'm also so glad I had the money to make it happen, and a job that was understanding. I actually ended up working from the hospital room, so I didn't have to take sick time or vacation (not sure how it even works in our system). Most days, I just sat next to him and held his hand, talked to him some, and worked. I told my husband I'd be home, so he didn't need to come up. But just getting to spend a few quality days there really meant a lot to me.
I'm so glad that my grandpa knew I was there. He smiled when he saw me. It was a huge shock to see him. He's been shrinking my whole life it seems, I think I passed him up in height when I was about 14, but he is tiny now. He looked almost like a skeleton with skin. In the two weeks before he went into the hospital and in his first week in the hospital (before they realized his g-tube had perforated his colon), he went from about 140 pounds to 108. It was shocking and scary to see him. He sleeps a lot, but when he's awake, he's alert -- and somewhat ornery.
Here are the three things I want to remember:
1. He said thank you when I put a blanket over him (after a nurse moved it to take vitals).
2. I left the room as a nurse was going to change him, and on my way out, I told her that I was his granddaughter. He said to the nurse as I was leaving, "she's my lawyer!"
3. He was frequently crabby when staff had to mess with him (taking vitals, etc.). I think in a VA hospital, they're probably particularly used to dealing with this. On the last full day I was there, a young male doctor came in. As with all providers, he was very clear in saying what exactly he was going to do. He said something like, "Leroy, I'm going to listen to your chest. We've increased your fluids and I need to make sure you're doing okay." My grandpa is pretty hard to understand since his stroke, but as the doctor was checking his heart/lungs with a stethoscope, my grandpa said something we didn't understand. The doc asked him to repeat, and my grandpa asked, fairly clearly, "how'd you like it if I shove that up your ass?" The doc didn't miss a beat and said "I don't think I'd like that at all. Tell you what, I won't stick it up your ass and you don't stick it up mine."
I came back to Dallas, and since then went to San Fran and Lake Tahoe for 6 days around Labor Day -- wow! Then went to Philly later in the day on the day we got back from San Fran -- beating! And this coming week, I'm working Colorado.
I told my dad that I'd come back whenever he wanted me to, if grandpa's condition changes, or for the funeral, whenever that is. This is so hard for my dad. I've never gone through this before. My other three grandparents died quickly, no prolonged illnesses. Two of them were up and about one day, and gone by the next. One was up and about (working on a catering job), then had a stroke or heart attack, was in the hospital and unconscious for about 2-4 days, then died. So nothing like this, years in a wheelchair with a feeding tube after a stroke, and now weeks (or months?) in a hospital in a slow decline. It might be easier to make a decision about hospice or ending his pain if my grandpa were declining mentally, but he's clearly still himself and alert at least some of the time.
One of the scariest things was once when my grandpa turned away from me to see who was walking in the hospital room, and the back of his head looked so much like my dad. I dread seeing my own parents get older, particularly to this point.