Monday, May 31, 2010

A Heavy Heart and Lots of Prayers

A few weeks ago, my maternal grandfather fell in the shower. It didn't seem to be a big deal at the time, but then he started complaining of headaches and began throwing up. My grandmother brought him to the hospital, where he was x-rayed. The x-rays show a subdural hematoma; he's bleeding at the base of his brain. None of this is very good (particularly the vomitting), but it's even worse given all of my grandfather's other health problems: renal failure, stroke, electrolyte imbalance, diabetes, and alcoholism. He's 86, too, so when all that adds up together, it makes for a pretty grim picture. No one really knows what is going on. The hospital can't do anything for him other than treat his pain and his nausea, so they won't admit him; the brain bleeding is either going to heal itself or it isn't.

I don't know how to feel. I don't want my grandfather to die, but I don't want him to suffer, either. I've been trying my best to pray for peace for both him and my grandmother, but I've had a hard time controlling my emotions and focusing them towards that end.

Rather than dwell on the negative, though, I thought I'd tell you a little about my grandfather, and maybe tell my favourite of his stories. My mom's father is a joker and a trickster. He grew up in Schumacher, ON, which is now part of Timmins. He was one of several children. He worked on the railroads1 and eventually wound up working for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Peterborough and Scarborough. He always has a joke, or a rhyme, or a song for his grandchildren. He loves trains, birds, gardenning, and the Royal Family. He has such a tremendous sense of humour, and tells stories so well. Here is one of my favourite grandpa stories:

The Story of Tom, Lloyd, and the Daisy Air Rifle
When Tom (my grandfather) and Lloyd (his brother) were young, there was nothing in the world that they wanted more than a pair of Daisy air rifles. Trouble was, their mother flat out refused to let them have guns. They began secretly squirreling money away, pledging that once they had enough saved up to buy two air rifles, they would go to the store and buy the guns regardless of what their mother thought. When that blessed day came, however, the store only had one gun in stock. They elected to buy the lone gun, and went off into a field to try to shoot some stuff. Once they ran out of logs and rocks to shoot at, Lloyd said to Tom, "I wonder how much it hurts to get shot by one of these."

The two boys decided to find out. They drew straws; the person drawing the short straw being the first person to get shot. Tom drew the short straw. He bravely walked away from Lloyd, and bent over, offering his buttocks as a target.2 Lloyd aimed, fired, and hit Tom square in the butt. It was the worst pain he had ever experienced in his young life, and the worst part was that he couldn't even do anything about it. He knew that if he so much as whimpered, Lloyd would chicken out and break his end of the bargain. Thus, he held in his tears just long enough to shoot his brother in the butt.

(Afterwards, of course, both boys cried, and had difficulty sitting properly, owing to the pellets in their butts, which resulted in both their mother's discovery of their evil plan and her confiscation of the air rifle.)

1 In the earlier parts of the twentieth century, the only choices in northern Ontario were railroads or mining.
2 When my grandpa told me this story, he told me that there was a reason why they were going to shoot each other in the butt, but I don't remember what it was.

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