My grandpa wasn't doing very well, and last Friday (July 15) the family and medical personnel were pretty sure he wouldn't have much longer to live. We really wanted to be there to see him while he was still alive. We're pretty close with my Grandpa Coy, not only from my childhood but also having lived in their basement for the first 8 years of our marriage. So we got permission from the precepting Doctor and the school and left the next day for Utah.
I had gotten a bee sting on Thursday evening and it just kept on a swellin', pretty soon my foot looked like I had preeclampsia again. Brent was worried about me sitting in the car ALL day with a foot swollen like that. So he set up a bed for me so I could elevate my foot and he drove all but the last four hours of the trip. I was grateful he did that because my foot was indeed in a lot of pain. We didn't get a hotel this time again, we just slept in a rest stop and it actually worked out pretty well because of this bed he made for me (I'm a bit picky about how I lay and sleeping usually isn't very possible in the car for me). I pulled the kids out of their car seats and we all just laid out all over the van. Glad we had left the back seats of the van up so this was possible, good thinking Brent!!!
We drove straight to the care center and spent some good time with him.
I'll never forget when we got there (Sunday) and he was still doing poorly how in his sleep he sang along with us. It was amazing. Mostly he mouthed the words along with us but when we sang, "How Great Thou Art" (his favorite hymn) he sang OUT LOUD right on pitch. He's always been too timid to sing and always just wanted to listen. It was amazing. He has said music helps pull him out of his parkinsons episodes. Most of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings were there as well. They put us in a big room and we all sang together. It was really neat.
Grandpa started waking up more and being more responsive.
Brent attended to him on Monday. It was his first time alone with him. As they were talking Brent got the idea to see how he did with a paintbrush in his hand. So Brent cruised to the house and got some paintbrushes, a blank canvas. and a few paints. He didn't expect much, he just wanted to try it out since Grandpa is an artist and always working with his hands.
Brent got the paintbrush ready for him and he put it in his hand and grandpa painted! For 10 minutes! After that he decided he needed to go to the bathroom and then eat. He had just went days and days without eating and he finally decided to eat! He even fed himself some of the food. It was incredible to see the change. Art therapy! Who knew?!
So I wanted a turn with him the next day and went to be with him and these are the thoughts I wrote down after I had a wonderful time with him that morning:
I'm sitting with my grandpa at the care center today and I want to record some of the thoughts I've had and experiences with him.
Grandpa just amazes me. He is a fighter, he is so strong. I've caught him on a good morning. He was sitting up sleeping in his wheelchair. I talked to him for a while talking about this and that and finally I mentioned who all was living at his house and I said, "I wish we were still living there." and all the sudden it was like a lightbulb turned on and he said, "Why can't you be there anymore?" and that led to me telling him all about Tennessee and he expressed a desire to come see the Eastern United States and after a while he was able to express how he wanted to see it because it sounded like it had a lot of beautiful... and then he couldn't remember the word for trees so I asked if trees were what he was referring to and he said yes.
We painted together... I wept as he painted. He couldn't reach out to take the paintbrush but once it was in his hand he painted like it was so natural to him. As we were looking at the painting he said, "it's different but... it has... power". Healing power is what I feel like he was feeling, I don't know.
We were looking at it working on it together a bit because he didn't want to be the only one painting so when he needed breaks he had me paint too. I said I thought we should go get some yellow paint, it really needed some yellow and he said, "Where's the store?" I said I had to wait to go get it until mom got there. And he said, "Well why don't you take my car I have parked out front?" ;)
Later I was telling him how worried the family was for him. He expressed in his own way how he wished we could all be together again. I told him how we sang to him when he was so sick and that he sang along. His eyes got wide and he said, "I did?" I told him how perfect he sang and how good he sounded and he still looked surprised and said, "I didn't know I could do that!" I told him I always suspected he could because of how pretty he could whistle. He seemed surprised to hear he could whistle too. Later I was singing to him and he was looking down at his hands trying to whistle along.
Over the next few days, with Grandpa improving so much we tried taking him home to care for him. A hospital bed was acquired and my amazing family got the sculpture room all cleaned out so he could be in that room with more space. It would have all worked quite well if Grandpa could have stayed in bed. I stayed the night the first night and literally every 20 minutes he was trying to get out of bed. He just couldn't remember that he couldn't walk anymore. I felt so bad for him laying there in that wet brief and I had no idea how to do anything for him besides talking with him and singing for him. It was a long hard night. Kelly came early on in the night when Grandpa was super agitated and that helped calm him down. Steve came early in the morning and helped me change him out of his wet clothes. Oh I forgot, one thing that added to his agitation that night was that he was worried about where all of his sculptures had gone. He thought someone had stolen them and they were worth thousands of dollars.
I couldn't stay the next night (It was so exhausting) so during the next few days Mom and the family worked hard to figure out where Grandpa could go since it wasn't working at home. There was a lot of frustration about what to do at night and even a fall in the night but luckily he wasn't hurt. Finally a VA facility was found that was nice and he was first taken back to the original care center for a few days so he would get better care then we were able to give him at night at home and then he was taken to the other facility the day we left to go back home.
These are pictures of my last time seeing Grandpa alive...
As for the other parts of this trip... I did a pretty good job documenting it all on Instagram so rather than repost it here, you can check it out there. One thing I didn't have on Instagram are these pics that I got from my sister in law.
I guess Griz can't give real smiles when it's super hot but he DID have fun at this parade. Glad we got to hang out with the cousins all day, it was good cousin time. :)
I still don't see why they don't just start it an hour later in the day, it would make so much more sense.
Let me think if I forgot anything else from the trip that I didn't cover in Instagram....yeah I'm sure I forgot a lot. Basically we hung out with the my Grandparents and parents quite a bit! The kids had several sleepovers at Grandma Ellen's but I stayed with my parents. Oh we did have a birthday party for Chico while Brent was still there but I didn't have my new phone at that point so I didn't take any pictures on it but my parent's had their Canon Rebel and took some, here are a few of Chico....
(That is a lego cake by the way.)
Oh and they spent a lot of time in the tree picking apricots and testing their climbing skills...
Oh and Dino Park with Gma Ellen while was at the temple in Ogden...