A while back, I posted this. As it turns out, the writing on the wall was lying, and the man in question was home again in no time; not fully recovered, and he never really did, but he was home. Since then, there have been a few more overnight visits to the hospital, but the Doctors never went so far again as to declare him finished.
On Friday morning I received the news that his most recent visit to the ward was going to be his last. The Doctors were giving him a couple of days. My first thought was, "yeah yeah, I've heard that before." My Sister, who was planning to go and visit him that day, asked whether I wanted to go with her, seeing as how it was likely to be the last chance I'd get. I declined.
Not, I hasten to add, because I wasn't bothered, but because I was due to sign on that day. I could, as several people have suggested, have attempted to get a signing exemption, or just a postponement, but she was leaving earlier than the phone lines opened. I was worried that if I went, then rang them and they said no, I'd be stuck. I'll be honest too, my claim for Job Seekers Allowance was new, and the length of time it had taken to get sorted had left me living on fumes; I didn't want to rock the boat in any way, especially for what I was still mostly convinced would be another false alarm.
Friday afternoon came and I got a phone call. He was even worse, and probably wouldn't last the day, but if he did, did I want to go and see him the next day. I said yes. Then I went back to being silly on twitter. You see, if you've read the post I linked to at the start of this, and I've mentioned it in several other posts on here too; I have a problem when it comes to sadness and grief, in that I don't actually feel it. It's odd, and not entirely natural, and it's not something I'm proud of, but it's a fact. So I claim, when I catch myself, that I'm being silly online to take my mind off things, but in truth I'm just being silly online because being silly online is what I do. He barely crossed my mind.
Saturday morning arrives and I'm up and about. I'm making videos for youtube, I'm writing blog posts (including the one that would have gone up today if this one hadn't been necessitated) and I'm watching rubbish telly. What I'm not doing, is worrying about my Grandfather. Then the phone rings, my lift is on the way to pick me up, best be ready to go because they're in a rush. So I get ready.
The journey to the hospital is odd. I'm being regaled with stories of my Uncle's antics in the hospital the night before, and how he kept everyone sane with his jokes. I'm told about how my Mother had refused to go the day before, 'and maybe it was for the best because she was still drunk from the night before', and how my Sister had gone mad at her. Then we pick up my Mother, who apparently *was* going this time, and we get to listen to her thrilling tales of people we know (I don't know them, and say so, and am told that I do; I don't).
Halfway to the hospital my Sister starts to shout at her boyfriend, who is driving, because apparently he is going a different route to usual. While this is happening, my Mother continues to talk about people I've never heard of, to an audience of zero, because I don't care and the other two are arguing amongst themselves. I entertain myself counting my goosebumps, since the window is open and I'm in the path of an arctic draught.
We arrive at the hospital. Upon entering, we make our way along the longest corridor ever committed to concrete, before eventually arriving at his room. And I swear, it's surreal. He's there, sitting up, looking like shit but awake, aware, and able to have a conversation. And he's surrounded by a bizarre cast of characters.
There are 4 beds in the room. In bed 1, we have the tiniest, frailest looking old man you've ever seen, in the biggest, baggiest pair of pajamas you've ever seen, lying flat on his back in an unmade bed, with one foot dangling over the edge. He's asleep, although at this point it's more that I'm *hoping* he's asleep; I'm only reassured when the tea trolley comes around and she doesn't seem overly concerned.
Bed 2 is my Grandad. Bed 3 is curtained off, and I can hear movement. Conversation is low; my attempts to eavesdrop come to nothing. Never mind, what about bed 4? Well the gentleman in bed 4 seems happy enough. He's not actually in bed; rather he's sitting in the chair next to the bed, going through the largest pile of racing supplements, ever. It's at this point that I'm reminded that it's Grand National day. He's also letting go some of the foulest, loudest, and frequent farts I've ever encountered.
Bloody Hell! The curtains around bed 3 are shifting and out comes... a prison warden! Fuck, there's a prisoner back there! What's he in for? (Prison or Hospital) None of my family know. Need for gossip *still* unfulfilled. The warden toddles off somewhere, I don't know where although I'm tempted to follow him (I don't). Should he have been going for a wander at all, I wonder. Is he allowed to leave his prisoner unattended? *Has* he? Or is there someone else behind the curtain? Ooh, the questions.
On the way back, Prison Warden is collared by bed4. Not, as I had imagined, to hear his rendition of Mozart's 6th in fart major, but to be shown many no doubt fascinating pictures of horses. Warden is obviously keen to return to his post, but too polite to say so. I'm tense; is this a distraction to enable an escape? Are armed men about to come barging in? No, it's just a lonely old man showing a captive audience some pictures of horses.
At this point my Grandad swears and his legs start bouncing. Ok. His arm is lifted and rested on his bedside table and his legs stop bouncing. Ok again. At this point I notice that the arm in question is essentially full of blood; The underside, where it's been laying, is one big red fresh bruise.
We leave the room and go to the cafeteria. The cafeteria has two tv's on the wall. One is playing horse racing coverage, the other the film PT-109. Neither has sound. I attempt to watch PT-109 while drinking one of the most horrible cups of coffee I've ever experienced but it's hard, because everyone else is shouting about the odds on the racing, and which horses they've backed. I'm asked which horse I've backed. I say none, because it's a cruel sport. I'm mocked.
As we leave the cafeteria an incident occurs. I'll not go into specifics but I will say that it involved a red stain on a seat and that I had assumed those days were gone for my Mother. Yeah.
Back in the hospital room and sleeping man is now awake, and has visitors; I'm only guessing but I think it was his wife and son. I'm adamant that I know the son, but he doesn't seem to recognise me so I say nothing. Maybe he used to be in Dynasty? Who knows?
We stay for another hour or so. Old sleepy man is led away by his 'Son'? but returns moments later, with wet pajamas. "Too late", says the Son, in a jaunty manner, making light. "Too late again. Too late as usual, he's always too bloody late" says the wife, not making light. I shouldn't jug, but I do. I still wonder where I know the Son from. Crossroads?
The curtains are closed while new pajamas are donned. While that is happening, we get a glimpse of prison warden number 2 (so that's that answered then). It's a woman; a rather striking redhead, to be exact. I'm smitten. I say nothing though, because I'm also somewhat intimidated. She heads off to get the teas in.
It's decided that since my Grandad has gone to sleep, it's an opportune time to go home and have some food, before some of us (by which I mean, not me) would head back for the night shift. As we leave the hospital it starts to rain. We're parked a fair way from the doors. This causes some grumbling from the party.
We go to my Grandmother's, to drop her off first. There I do my first useful thing of the day and get the washing in off the line. We all drink coffee and I sit and grumble while they watch the Grand National.
I wonder at how small the estate looks since they've pulled down the bungalows between my Grandmothers house and the allotments. The journey around the bungalows made it seem quite a trek between the two; now that they're gone the direct line of sight shows just how close they actually are. This amazes me more than it perhaps should.
We go home. On the way, everyone discusses how much better my Grandad had seemed today, as compared to the previous day. I'm reminded of a year ago, but I say nothing. Then my Mother starts ranting about her neighbour; "the one with the half cast brat", and I say nothing for other reasons. Not that I needed it, but I am reminded how much disdain I have for her.
She is dropped off first. Then I am dropped at home with assurances that I'll be kept informed. I head indoors and after a quick 5 minutes dwell and a couple of tweets on the subject, I'm back to not thinking of him at all. I disgust myself sometimes.
I received a telephone call on the Sunday evening. My Grandad had died at 5:30AM, that morning. I had not been called at that time, because it's common knowledge that my phone ringing doesn't wake me up, so I'd been moved down the list and then forgotten about.
I didn't break down, I didn't feel much of anything, to be honest. In the same way that I had been more interested in hot prison wardens and bladder weakened pensioners while in his presence, my first thought now was getting back to my book. I'll miss him, when I think of him. I'm glad that, for all we didn't make a big deal of it, I gt to see him one last time. But as with every other death I've experienced in my life, I'm not broken up, or upset. Which is why I now have to brace myself for not going to his funeral. I'll see my Grandmother separately, and pay my condolences, but I'll not be attending any formal gathering. As much as people will think ill of me for not attending, the truth is, if I do go it'll be worse. I make people uncomfortable; they don't know how to be around my lack of emotion.
I'll be doing them a favour.