My grandpa is going to die soon

I know we get these threads often around here. I admit that I’ve avoided my fair share of them; sometimes because I didn’t want to be depressed and sometimes because, well let’s face it, everybody’s grandpa dies.

I’ve resisted starting a thread about him since he got sick because I know that I’m simply not capable of doing him justice with words. I lack the written communication skills to tell you how special this man is and how much he means to me.

My grandpa is the most able man I’ve ever known. He is a physical, mental, and emotional powerhouse. He was never a bodybuilder, in fact he never lifted a weight that I know of, but he was an incredibly hard worker and had the muscles to prove it. Right up until a year ago he could still rip a Los Angeles phonebook in half. Two months ago while I was visiting him the man beat me in a footrace uphill, and let me assure you that I’m no slow-poke and I was giving it everything I had.

He wasn’t a well educated man. He dropped out of school the first day of 9th grade because all the kids made fun of his shoes. He had seven sisters, all raised by a single mother, and they were so poor that he didn’t have any shoes, so his mom made him a pair out of an old tire innertube.

Still, he was very naturally intelligent and quick-witted. He worked very hard as a fence builder and was the best at what he did. He even built a fence for Doris Day at her house once and spent lots of time chatting it up with her. My grandmother was there with her kids one of the days he was working on it and she commented “You know, you look a lot like Doris Day,” to which Ms. Day replied, “Well that’s because I am!” They both say she was very pleasant.

Of course fence builders can’t build fences forever and my grandfather eventually used his natural intelligence and charisma to get a very good suit-and-tie job and retired lacking nothing.

I grew up on opposite coasts as my grandfather (opposite from all of both sides of my family actually.) I was born in Atlanta; he lived in LA. I grew up in North Carolina; he still lived in LA. Now that I live in Phoenix and he lives in Sacramento it’s the closest we’ve ever been to each other but it’s still a 13 hour drive or a $200 flight. Not exactly right around the corner.

Despite this, and thanks to my dad working for an airline, we both flew for free and became very close from the day I was born. He would come to my place and we would walk around the woods, marking the trees for sweetgum and whittling whistles out of twigs. I would go to his place and we would walk around the swap meet, picking up old anniversary clocks and taking them home to fix.

We always had a special relationship; I’m sure that he’s where I got my sense of humor and my thick skin from. And he loved having someone around that he could bop on the head and thump in the adam’s apple and play funny little pranks on and know that he didn’t mean anything bad by it.

Boy I remember how I used to cry when I would have to come home from his house. I’d stumble down the jetway with my head cocked halfway around, waving goodbye and crying, then get on the plane and cry some more when I could no longer see him through the window. He’d just laugh and laugh, and I never thought for a second that he was laughing at me. That was just the way he expressed himself. I’d get home and cry some more and beg my mom to go back. My brother used to tease me when we were kids, “grandpa’s not going to live forever you know.”

I met his grandpa, my great-great-grandpa. Met him twice in fact, he lived to be 104. I always figured that if he could live to be a grandpa and still have a grandpa then why couldn’t I?

Last August, just shy of his 68th birthday, he found out he had brain cancer. A “glioblastoma” I think it’s called. The worst kind as far as I know. I went as soon as I found out and spent a couple days with him. Then I went again at Thanksgiving and again two months ago, in May. In June I got to see him at our yearly family reunion. He had gained quite a bit a weight and looked oddly pudgy because he’s on prednisone, but other than that he still seemed fine. He just says he’s tired all the time. He says he “looses his energy” too fast.

For my birthday, on 7/7, my girlfriend bought me a plane ticket to go see him August 18th-22nd. I just talked to my dad who was leaving his house though and he said he doesn’t think he’ll be there :(.

Here are a few of the last pictures I have of him, from the family reunion in June:

This is me, him, and my girlfriend. He always takes his hat off for pictures because he thinks his bald head is funny. See, no one in my family is bald. Never has been. Remember my 104 year old great-great-grandfather that I told you about up there? He died with a full head of hair. They told my grandpa that his treatment would leave him without any hair on his entire body but only the hair on the very spot where they shot the radiation fell out. He can actually grow his hair back now if he wants but he’s gotten used to the bald head and he likes it. He calls himself “Baldylocks.”

This is him by himself. That’s my mom on the left side of the screen laughing like a damn fool, by the way :).

This is the last shot of us hugging goodbye. That’s my brother on the right. I wish there were more pictures of this but I got mad because I thought my sister was trying to take pictures of me crying so I took the camera away from her. I guess emotions were just flaring too high at the moment.
None of this does one iota of justice to what an amazing, charismatic, powerful, loved, and loving man my grandfather is, but I feel good having typed it.

Here’s hoping my wonderful girlfriend didn’t buy that plane ticket in vain.

Your grandpa sounds like a remarkable man. Best wishes to both of you.

He sounds like a great granfather and even better friend. I’m sending best wishes to both of you, hoping that you both don’t suffer too much. My Grandpa (I called him PopPop) died from cancer that spread to his brain. I still think about him, that maybe he’s in heaven.

Good luck, Cisco.

My stepfather has had two bouts of cancer but his were with Hodgkins Lymphoma, one of the more easily cured cancers. Even still, both times I was scared out of my mind for him and for my mom, who it would have killed as much as him. It’s a horrible thing to have to endure and I am sorry that you, your grandfather, and your family are having to suffer through it.

Your grandfather sounds like a wonderful man and this post, in addition to the pictures – the last one especially – are a great testament to him.

I wish you the best of luck.

Peace to both you and your grampa. You’re both in my thoughts.

Cisco, in just a few words you’ve made me love a man I’ve never met. I wish I could have known him.

The greatest love I’ve known in my own life has been the love of a grandchild. With a hug like that one in the photo, you have said everything he needs to hear.

In the first photo, I see a proud and happy man.

Even when you are very old yourself, you will still have him for a grandfather. You are both very blessed.

I am sorry your family is going through this. :frowning: The photos really make it hit home. He does seem like a wonderful man. I hope that you get the chance to have some more quality time with him when you make your trip.

He looks like a real sweetheart, you can tell he’s smart and funny. 68 is way too young. Hope when he goes, it’s quick—be glad you’ll have good memories of him. My nice grandfather died when I was only eight, and I regret not getting to really know him. My sonofabitch grandfather, of course, lived to be 92 . . .

Cisco, I don’t know why you thought you don’t have the skills to tell us how much your grandfather means to you. If you still believe that, please re-read what Zoe said. As Eve said, be glad you have good memories.

I hope you get to see him again.

All the best.

I loved and was close to both of my grandfathers and those great memories you have are so important. When I was 7, we moved from Pennsylvania to California and I never saw my Dad’s father again. He died at 62, when I was 11. I saw my Mother’s father for three days in June of 1968, while I was on leave just before I left for Viet Nam. I was lucky I had those three days because he passed away the following New Year’s eve. My parents didn’t tell me until I came home from the war in July of 1969. :frowning:

Thanks for all the kind words everybody.

My girlfriend felt the urgency in the situation and bought another plane ticket (at first I thought she just switched the date of the original one), so I’ll be going up there this Sunday :D.

I told him I will attend church with him Sunday night.

Cisco, did you ever see that scene in It’s A Wonderful Life where the younger brother raises a toast to his older brother(Jimmie Stewart) and says “Here’s to my big brother George, the richest man in town!”

He wasn’t talking about money of course, he was talking about love and friends. It sounds as if you and your grandfather are both rich, to have each other like that. (And don’t forget the girlfriend too, she sounds like a keeper!)

We Dopers will be thinking of you. Keep us posted.

Zoe says exactly what I feel. That was very touching, and he’d be proud to know you feel that way about him. Here’s to a beautiful Sunday.

I must also say that you have a very supportive girlfriend, and she has a great guy :slight_smile:

There are a lot of things worse in the world than dying when you know you are loved and with loved ones with you. He does sound, and looked, like a man who had done well with his life and is happy.

All of my grandparents are long gone. My dad’s mother was the last in 1987 and she was 98. And it is hard to lose them. Hold on to the memories, years from now you will be sitting around with siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles laughing about the good times you had with him.
And damn it! cry if you want to.

I am sorry to hear your news. Losing a loved one is a very deep sadness. Sending warm thoughts your way.


I don’t know what the :frowning: you just posted means…I hope it just means you are sad by what is going on right now and that you are still on your way to see him.

Your post is a wonderful testament to your grandfather…and you…and your girlfriend. Lots of love there all around.

My thoughts are with you.

I’m so terribly sorry Cisco. :frowning:
Oddly enough, I read through your post last month and found that I was at a loss as to what to add. So many others had eloquently put down the thoughts that I was having.
I smiled through your tribute, thinking how wonderful it was to read about a man who deserved such words. I did great, until that last picture…and then the flood gates opened… my heart just ached for you.
I’m sure I can’t imagine the pain you’re in, Cisco, but take comfort in knowing that you are who you are today, for having your grandpa in your life.
This world will be a lesser place without him.

Thank you all. Just to clear things up, he passed away this morning. I’ll be back to post more later.

I’m sorry for your loss. :frowning: