Before there were four, there were four others I would have easily claimed as my own. It all started on a day in August or September of 2000. I remember receiving a phone call from my mom saying that the man who took care of my Pappy during the day had taken another job and could no longer continue caring for Pappy. Caleb was 4 months old. I agreed to help out not knowing how much that would change my life for the good.
(Me, Pappy, and RyAnn in December of 1997)
I'll give a little background information. Pappy is my dad's dad. Pappy and I always had a good relationship growing up. I was the first girl on my dad's side of the family in 65 years. I still remember one time as a little girl telling Pappy to get into the playpen and he did. When I told him to get out, he did and it proceeded to break. After my Mamie died (I was 11), Pappy and I became closer. If my parents went out of town, I would often go and stay at his house. We would try and visit him every week and take him to dinner.
(Uncle Bob and Pappy in December of 1997)
As I got older, Pappy started to slow down. I truly enjoyed helping him walk when he needed it. When I went off to college, he started needing more help. It was decided that he would come and live with my parents. His first night there, I was home for the Christmas holidays. I was a junior in college. There were a lot of transitions that took place and I missed out on a lot of those since I was away at college that spring. I loved coming home and seeing him.
(Dad, Mom, Me, Pappy, Lizzie, and RyAnn in December of 1997)
Pappy had been diagnosed with dementia and couldn't walk except on his knees due to osteoporosis. Pappy, Caleb, and I fell into a good daily routine when all of this started in 2000. By October, I had pretty much decided I could never stop taking care of Pappy. There was no way I could ever turn my back on him. I won't go into detail but that October, we took him to the doctor for The doctor let us know that she thought he might have cancer but she didn't think we should do any testing and only gave him 6 months to live (He lived for four more years.). He now qualified for hospice.
(Pappy meeting Caleb for the first time in May of 2000)
I appreciated the fact that my parents respected me enough to ask if I wanted daily help. At that point, I declined but a nurse came out weekly to see how he was doing. I learned a lot about home health care and hospice, some good and some bad. In the spring of 2004, Pappy developed a cancerous growth on his head. The doctor didn't think it should be removed, but our nurse supported our decision and we were able to find someone who would remove it. I knew he was uncomfortable and didn't think it was fair to him. I wanted him to have a quality life no matter the length of time. Even though he couldn't tell me in words, I knew he felt relief.
(Caleb and Pappy in December of 2000)
At one point during this time, an opportunity was presented for us to move out of state. After much prayer, Kerry and I decided that God was good with us staying where we were for the present and we felt it was more of God wanting to see if we would be willing to go if He told us to go. At that time, I felt God was telling me that He was going to allow me to be with Pappy until he died. I made a commitment to Pappy at that time that I would be there for him until the very end.
(Caleb and Pappy in the summer of 2001)
My love for Pappy had changed throughout those four years. Although he was my grandfather, the roles had changed and I saw him as more of a son. I loved him as a son. The day finally came when I received a call from my mom on a Sunday morning that Pappy wasn't doing well. Caleb and I came right over (we were already at church). I called Jeanice, our nurse, who met me there. She informed us that it could be 24-48 hours but with Pappy you never know (she new his ability to keep going strong). She suggested continuous care but I wasn't too sure how I felt about it. Since I respected her opinion, I agreed to start continuous care for the evening only and that I would be responsible for him the following day. Kerry came by after church and took Caleb home. I stayed in Pappy's room with him all day and still remember the last time he looked at me.
(Pappy and Caleb)
God placed the right people there when I needed them. He sent a nurse for the evening that sat and listened to me talk about Pappy, Kerry and Caleb until early in the morning. I finally decided I should get some rest if I was going to be the only one there the next day. Plus, I finally felt that I could trust the nurse to take good care of Pappy during those few hours away. I kissed Pappy once more and told him I loved him and would be in the next room if he needed me. (He hadn't opened his eyes since before dinner). However, sometime before 6am, the nurse came in the living room and let us know that Pappy had passed away.
(Pappy, Granddad, and Caleb)
I'm sure people think that there should be a since of relief but there wasn't. I was happy for Pappy but not for me. He had taught Caleb how to have a giving, helpful spirit, something you can only learn by doing. I had learned how to be selfless, not expecting something in return. Pappy's smiles and kisses on my hand were enough. It wasn't easy for awhile during the day without Pappy. Not only had I lost Pappy, I lost Etta Mae (nurse's assistant) and Jeanice (nurse). These ladies I saw constantly when Pappy was alive. Etta Mae was so good at making me laugh and Jeanice would listen to me on good days and bad days. It took a long time going to my parents' house before I was able to visit without heading to Pappy's room to check on him.
(Pappy and me in July 1997)
I still think of Pappy, and as I sat here not too long ago, I realized not too many people that we have met since moving from Texas 3 years ago realize what my life was like before then. It was also before I started the blog. One more tidbit, Kerry and I knew we weren't going to have any more children until Pappy passed away. Pappy passed away on Monday, November 15 and we found out we were pregnant on Friday, November 19th (we weren't even trying). I will always see Josiah as our blessing from God and how He worked out my desire for more children in His own timing. Pappy was one of the four others I would have easily claimed as my own. I'll share about the other three on another day.