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February 22, 2000


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Grandpa Don is getting worse. The day after his surgery, he was sent up to a normal semiprivate, and it looked good for his going home quickly. Now, I doubt he'll ever go home. He went back to the SCU almost immediately, and things just started going downhill for him. His kidneys failed, so he went on dialysis. He had trouble breathing, so they intubated and then performed a tracheotomy.

I saw him last week. He can't talk now, and he can't have his dentures in, so his face is sunken. The tube in his throat gives off steam constantly, as they're keeping his lungs moist as well as giving him air.

He held my hand while I talked to him, his grip surprisingly strong. Stronger than the last time we held hands by far. Strong like I remember in youth. Denied his voice, mobility or comfort, he seems to take dignity in the strength of his left hand, conveying love with a squeeze.

I held hands with him for five minutes, until he tired. I complimented him on his color (which was good) and told him how much I loved him.

Mom tells me he's looking worse, now. Much worse. I need to go over sometime soon and see him again. He's my Grandpa Don, and I'll miss him if he goes. I love him very much.

Grandpa Don, dying of a heart condition. And me, living with one. He doesn't know I have it, of course. Neither does my Grandmother. There's no sense in worrying them. They know I like my job and where I live. Let that be what they hold close right now.

Not that Grammie's holding much close right now. Her thoughts are scattered at best, and she fixates on delusions or draws wrong conclusions. Upset, perhaps. Or perhaps not. There is no good way to tell. Mom and Dad do what they can, and so does my Aunt Dona. They make up the foundation of Grammie's life now. And that has me thinking about foundations.

I have a foundation, of course. Especially right now. Mom and Dad are it's core, though I'd rather not increase the load on them right now. Better to just get better, I think. Here in Wolfeboro I have a foundation. Mason's the bedrock of it. He spends a lot of time with me now, officially to "use my internet connection." Unofficially I think he just wants me to have someone nearby. Someone to joke with. That feels so very good, though I don't want to consume his life.

Last night, I really wasn't up to being online (I spent most of the day lying down), but Mason kept me abreast of what's going on. I appreciated that.

Van is a bright moment, always. He's consistently hysterical, which is nice. I know I can rely on him. And he's a fun third for whatever we're doing, from bad movies to food to spending too much on geek toys. Things are brighter for his presence.

Eileen is a big part of my foundation in the office, helping keep things running even if I'm skipping off to the Doctor's every five minutes. Fran is as well. And Alan and Bonnie (the director of personnel) are amazingly good to a sick coworker.

And beyond? My cup runneth over. Russ. Kate. Chris. Matt. Stirge -- blunter than most, but meaning every word of it. Frank. John. Deb. Jon. Phil. Amy. Karen. And everyone else, in their own ways. I've likely forgotten as many as I've remembered here, but I rely on them all.

So many bright points connected to a life. So many weaving into my own personal tapestry.

I wonder if the day will come that I hold one of their hands, not able to talk. Just look, and hold on. I wonder if they will know how much I love them. I wonder if I can have the strength in my hand that Grandpa Don has. I hope so. I hope they all know how much I love them and need them.

In the meanwhile, I'm tired. So very tired.

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