A Week of Solace


(Monday and Tuesday) Our final days in Hawaii.
(Tuesday and Wednesday) Arriving home from Hawaii, Cheryl and I went and picked grandma up. She had spent our time away at SpringMeade in respite. We knew there would be one of two outcomes. She either LOVED it and would want to go back/remain in care or she would slip farther down the dementia hole. Being that the day before she went her behavior was worrisome (becoming very stiff and a little unresponsive, didn't want to eat, talk, or do anything) we weren't shocked to find her completely unresponsive.

She had basically clamped her teeth shut and wouldn't/couldn't eat, drink, or take meds. The nurses at SM along with her hospice nurses gave her all the care and attention they could but the disease made a huge progression. Of course the family is feeling some guilt for the week in respite but I have to believe that the end result would have been the same no matter what; she was already slipping away from us.

We picked her up Wednesday evening. She remained unresponsive through Thursday and Friday. Friday morning one of her nurses and I changed her clothes and bedding and she displayed extreme discomfort (she hadn't up until this point). Her temperature also rose significantly (104.1!). At that point it was time to start comfort care... We were able to bring her temperature down and it was clear she was once again comfortable. I think she needed that care to find her way.
Grandma died at 3:45pm Friday afternoon.
She was surrounded by her immediate family, grandpa holding her close.

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Sad isn't a strong enough word to lose someone you love. I'm not sure that any word carries enough weight. I am heartbroken that my grandmother was lost for so many years. I almost can't remember her before the disease. Going through pictures and memories with the family has been a great reminiscence! I am also sorrowful for my grandpa. He's so grief-stricken. They were married for 64 years. He really doesn't even know life without her.

The chaos of Billie wandering rooms, misplacing items, and struggling to understand is replaced with a deafening silence. Her soul has definitely left the building and for grandpa, it's a thrill to know she's with her son, Brett and grandson, Jamie in heaven. But that isn't yet enough to fill the void.

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Sadly, last week, Luca's grandmother also passed away. She was 92 and in the care of her family as well. Luca made it back to Italy in time to share in grief and lay her to rest.
It's quite staggering to realize how connected our grandmothers were. Or it might just be empathic irony. We both lost a huge part of our hearts and families, a great matriarch.

Last evening we held a visitation for grandma and send a special thank you to all our family and friends who stopped by to pay their respect. I was thanked by many for my updates and writings and I wanted to send back a quick thank YOU. Although often RAW and CANDID, knowing it's appreciated and welcomed is very healing.

Today we have a gravesite service to say our final goodbyes.
Friday I'll begin my journey, returning home, to Italy. To my Luca.