I got the call yesterday afternoon. When my dad couldn’t get out the words in between his choked sobs, I knew it was bad. WHAT?! JUST TELL ME?! I begged.
Open heart Surgery.
My great-grandfather is 86 years old and has been a huge part of my life since the day I was born. When I was in grade school we always used to have those hero assignments. Write about your hero.
Who is your hero and why?
Tell us about your hero.
My hero was always my great grandfather. We’ve been so, so close. Forever. For my third birthday he built me my own life-sized doll house. The perfect house for a 3 year old who had a big imagination. It was big enough to walk around in. It had a kitchen and a kitchen window complete with a planter and flowers. It came with a broom and a mail box. He built it by hand just for me. I loved that house.
He used to pick me up and take me to horse riding lessons when I was 6.
We used to go to visit his parents and his great niece Alisha for years before they moved out of state. We’d visit and eat ice cream and on the drive he’d talk to me about all of the various types of trees we’d pass. By the time I was 10 I’m pretty sure I could name every type of tree!
When my parents divorced he’d pick me up on the regular and take me out to lunch. Our favorite spot was KFC because I loved hot wings. He would brag to all of his friends that his little granddaughter could eat hot wings with the spiciest sauce on them! We used to play the “First one to see the KFC sign wins….” game.
We would take road trips together as I got older. My dad and brother came along too. Yellowstone. Idaho for two separate family reunions. Fishing trips. Trips to the casino. Trips to the flea market. My grandpa loves the flea market.
He visited me in Colorado last fall and we went to breakfast. He only had a few hours, but of course made time for me. Another time I visited him when he was staying in a cabin in the Colorado mountains and at 85 years old he took me 4 wheeling in an ATV-type vehicle. At 85!
He’s always been there to give me advice and to lend me just a bit of the knowledge and most importantly and cherished, the wisdom he has gained from 86 years in this crazy world. He’s been my biggest advocate when it comes to getting my education and (along with my dad) was the one who really encouraged me to travel the world with Semester at Sea.
When my dad explained that my grandpa needed surgery I booked a flight back to California as soon as I could. I flew in on one of those tiny CRJ-200’s and landed in Sacramento before midnight. I got to the ICU an hour later. He was sleeping and I didn’t have the heart to wake him as he lie there with a mask on and oxygen going at 8 liters.
This afternoon I was finally able to talk with my grandpa and meet with the cardiothoracic surgeon who will be doing the open heart surgery. On Sunday my grandpa had a heart attack and on Monday he went into heart failure. Thanks to the magic drug, Lasix, he is now stable. The surgery is risky of course, but he’s an active and otherwise healthy 86 year old so they think the surgery will be a success. The complications could be deadly, but the doctor gives those complications a 6% chance of occurring.
His surgery is scheduled for Thursday morning.
I’m now back in California surrounded by family and remember that huge elephant I spoke of in my last post? Well, it decided to step off for a bit and let me breathe. The circumstances of my arrival here were horrible but I am so thankful to be here. For now I have a one-way ticket. Andrew was kind enough to watch Copper and I am so thankful that despite everything we have been through, he still loves me enough to watch my dog. It may seem insignificant to some, but to me it means the world.