Friday, February 24, 2017

Being Direct

To my son Tommy,

I have to say things directly. Your grandfather's health has deteriorated the past few weeks. It had been going down all along but the past two weeks showed marked decrease. He has been moved to home hospice care. 

The last CT scan showed swelling in the brain which caused a midline shift where the right side of the brain is squeezing his left side of the brain. We had an MRI the other day and await those results to see if the increased meds will alleviate the symptoms a bit. This swelling caused by tumor growth or treatment or just the natural progression of the cancer, is what will eventually kill him. In the meantime, it has become difficult to care for him and we needed help, thus the hospice.

The hospice nurse today suggested to your mom (I had to work today) that things might happen quickly. From the  nurse's twenty some odd years of experience, she thinks he has about two weeks to live. Bah, what do any medical professionals know? Taking that estimate with a healthy dose of skepticism salted with a bit of denial. Your Grandpa Leo has been anything but typical when it comes to beating the odds and besting timelines, but it is still a sad and sobering thought. Even if he bests this guess by ten times the amount of days, facing the eventuality is becoming all too real.

Death comes for us all and leaves many behind to grieve. Your Grandpa always told me that he doesn't fear death and suggested we celebrate life instead. He said that is the Downey way. So, there will be plenty of time for grief later. For now, we will enjoy the moments we have with your Grandpa Leo. Every day is precious and if you live life with one eye constantly on the finish line, you might forget to enjoy running the race. Of all the "Downey ways" this one may be the toughest to understand and accept. But your Grandpa Leo is a shining example of how to approach the end on this earth. So right now we have to pull up our big boy pants, put on our suspenders, don our colanders atop our head, and enjoy the precious moments gifted to us by God, no matter how much we dread the difficult times ahead.

Sincerely with love from your dad,