In My Grandfather's Footsteps
Posted by Sarah Hehemann
I am so incredibly blessed to have had all four of my grandparents in my life for seventeen years. I couldn't imagine losing one of them until my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
The one thing I remember best about my grandfather is that he could tell stories like he was reading a book. He used such detail and was indescribably passionate about what he did. He was a physician and the number one rule he always followed was to make sure his patients were comfortable and peaceful.
To be diagnosed with a memory deteriorating disease was devastating not only to our family but for him. He was frustrated with his inability to retain information and his quick loss of focus. He wasn't completely aware of his decline but he definitely knew he was struggling.
The fears of his closely creeping death became much more serious and real when he fell one day. My grandpa fractured his ribs, had slipped discs in his back, and was in pain all the time. Because of an incomparable amount of love, my grandma wanted to do all she could to save his life and heal his physical wounds. He was in too much pain to fix the injuries.
In the hospital, my grandpa looked at me and said, "Thanks for coming sweetheart. I love you." He was transferred to hospice the next day to manage his pain better. I spent every day after school at the center, holding his hand while he slept and rubbing his feet. I left one day saying, "I love you, Grandpa. I will see you tomorrow."
Tomorrow came and I was at school. Early in the morning, I received a text from my mom telling me that Grandpa had passed away, very peacefully like he always wanted for his patients. This was my time to be strong for the family. My mom is the strongest person I know and now, I had to be what she was for me: a shoulder to cry on, a hand to squeeze, and a tight embrace for comfort. Losing my grandfather was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. As hard as it was for me, it was equally as tragic for my family, especially my Grandma. Despite all the hurt my family felt, I am comforted by the knowledge that he is always right beside us. He could not have been in a more beautiful, calm, and comfortable place towards the end of his life in the hospice care center. I have chosen not to be saddened by his passing but to be inspired and encouraged by his life to do great things like he did.
I have committed my future to pursuing a medical profession to follow in the great footsteps my Grandfather has left for me and my cousins. I know that God has sent him to so many people as an angel and he is still healing, protecting, and comforting those in pain like he did during his life. My grandma's best friend gave me a card that says, "Christ has no body now on Earth but yours. No hands but yours. No feet but yours." It is my responsibility to protect, heal, and lead others to a place of peace and comfort.