Hypothetically Speaking . . .

. . . . . . . . Because Humor Matters

In Memory Of Grandpa

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Aug• 19•10

During the writing of the blog entry that would have been posted sometime this week, my grandfather, Frank Harry Dorsey, passed away. I’m still kind of in denial about it. You know how there are older people in your life and you always expect them to be there because they always have been and you can’t imagine there ever being a time when they won’t be? You celebrate their birthday each year not really thinking about how different a birthday is for a 30-year-old, than it is for a 79-year-old. In one instance, your best years may still be ahead of you. In the other, making it to the next birthday is truly a blessing—and may also require a mail-order subscription of Ben Gay. We celebrate each year not realizing that the more birthdays we observe, the fewer we have left to anticipate. That thought process really makes you want to take the time to stop and smell the Panera bagels.

Fortunately, a day before he passed, we got the call from the nursing home, where he’d spent the last few years of his life, and this allowed us to spend some very precious last moments with him. When I arrived, he was completely unresponsive and fighting to breathe. It was truly difficult to see him that way. This was grandpa. He was a fighter. He’d dealt with medical issues before and was able to bounce back. Why would this time be any different? But it was different. It was detectable in the eyes of the nursing home staff. I heard it in my grandma’s voice. I witnessed it in the quiet nature of my mother that day—she’s never quiet…ever…unless she’s stopping to think of something to say. I’m kind of like that too. I guess she gets it from me.

We asked questions about the odds of him coming out of the condition successfully and were told that he was in the transitioning stage toward death. Despite the overwhelming sadness in the room, we were fortunate enough to have a few bright moments. After several hours of his being in that state of unconsciousness, someone mentioned a hot dog and, lo and behold, there was my grandfather’s voice proclaiming that he wanted one too. I hadn’t heard his voice since June. We laughed. Before we realized it, we’d all fallen back into our usual routine of asking him questions and feeding him ice chips just like we’d done the whole time he’d been there in the home. He never opened his eyes, but he did tell us that he loved us. When we went to leave, he asked us where we were going. We told him we’d see him the next day, just as we’d done repeatedly throughout the years. Because of how interactive he’d become, we kind of developed a false sense of security and believed that we would be able to continue our bonding session the following day. We had no idea that night would be the last time we’d see him alive.

Less than 12 hours later, we got “the call.” Grandpa was gone. He passed away at 6:45 AM on August 17, 2010. He had so many visitors after his passing that it was clearly apparent that he was not just special to us, but to everyone he came in contact with. At some point throughout the day, nearly all the staff of the nursing home stopped in to pass on their condolences and to share their fond memories of him. In addition, many of the patients stopped in as well to offer kind words of encouragement. However, I must say that the high point of the day was when the musical director came in and told us that she used to sing with my grandpa to entertain him and help pass the time. I had never associated him with music. When she asked if we needed anything, I jokingly asked her to sing one of the songs they’d sung together. Surprisingly, she snatched up her guitar and sang Lena Horne’s “Stormy Weather” as my grandmother, my mother and I looked down at my grandpa who looked like he was just sleeping. I held one hand as my grandma held the other. It was truly a beautiful moment. It will forever bring a smile to my face to know that my grandpa left this world in a way that was so fitting of his life: expressing his love for his family, being talkative, and asking for a hot dog.

Rest in peace, Grandpa.

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One Comment

  1. Shawn Bonner says:

    I am so sorry for your loss man. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Take care man and God bless.

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