My grandpa has a lot of health issues. He's got an enlarged heart which causes a lot of the problem. He retains water and has for years. He has hard time breathing and has to use a CPAP machine at night also known as compressed positive air pressure. He's been having more problems the last few weeks. We took him in for a non stress test and found out that he may have had a massive heart attack. The Dr scheduled an angiogram to find out for sure. So yesterday we took him up to Good Samaritan in Portland. They did the angiogram and found something they weren't expecting. What that is we don't know yet. The Dr came in to talk to us and he wasn't able to stay long enough to explain what happened. We talked to him and agreed that we'd all meet up when he does his rounds in between his surgeries. I'm scared to find out what's going on inside. The Dr did say though that he will have to have open heart surgery. OPEN HEART SURGERY! That's major surgery. I know they have come a long way in technology but still it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. I'll give you a little history on my papa and maybe it'll be easier to understand why it's so tough.
My Papa was born in 1941 in Nebraska. From the stories I've heard his parents weren't all that great. He also has 2 sisters who have drawn away from him for whatever reason. He was the only son and I think his mom only wanted daughters. I was told one time that he had a night time accident and his parents put him in the garage with one blanket and told him if he wet that to he'd just have to deal with it. Horrible I know makes me feel awful when I think that's what he lived with. He met my grandma in 63 and took under his wing her three boys from a previous marriage. He took my uncles in and raised them as if they were his own. Him and my gram married in 64 and had my aunt the same year. My mom followed in 67. When my mom had me at 15 in 1982 I was the only grandchild for about 3 years. My mom told me once that when he came to see us in the hospital he was terrified to hold me because I was so small he was afraid he'd break me. I was Papa's princess. I was the child who commit murder right in front of him and get away with it.
My Papa was a cop back in the 70's he also was a trucker and then he go into computers and has been a computer design engineer pretty much my whole life. He is really the smartest man I have ever met. He taught me to change a tire and a hard drive. He taught me what family is all about and the stand up for what I believe in. He taught me that no matter what happens in my life or where I go that I always have a home. The biggest thing he taught me was to have heart in the tough times and know that no matter what life throws my way he has the confidence in me to make it through even though I may not have it in myself. He taught me good music like Patsy Cline, Hank Williams Sr and Willie Nelson. My Papa gave me his will and his stubbornness and let me tell you I use it well. He told me once that no matter how scared I get fear is not my leader and I can stare it down and push it off a cliff. He taught me to stand up for myself even against my own family if I believe in my idea strong enough that others will come around. I guess that's why I think I'm right so much.
When I got pregnant at 17 while in high school he was mad. I was mad at myself because I didn't care what other people thought of me except for him. I just didn't want him to be disappointed in me. He told me that no matter how much I screw up I could never disappoint him. When Anna was born, this man who hates hospitals and would rather have been shot then go to one, came to see me and to meet his new great granddaughter. I don't think I've ever seen him smile as much as he did when I handed her over to him. This man who helped raise me and my brother because my mom was so young, with his large calloused hands was holding Anna so carefully that it made me want to cry. He helped raise me and was now able to meet his peanut. He used to tell me "Let her be better than you." Now that may sound kind of harsh but like any parent we want our kids to be better than ourselves. In other words let her try things that you wouldn't, let her make her mistakes and don't try to fix everything. Teach her the facts and don't lie to her. She's not a small adult she's a child who has to be taught right from wrong. He told me "She'll learn better if you're upfront and honest with her. Talk to her not down to her and instill values, morals and manners." I've done all that. Anna is really her own worst critic and punishes herself worse than any of us could ever do.
Anna was 2 when we Iived through hell on earth. Chris was the love of my life. We were engaged although we were young I could never picture my life wit out him. I went to California on vacation and was only gone 2 days when I got the call that nobody ever wants to get. Chris was gone and I needed to come home. I was on the first flight out the next morning at 6 am. I came home to our families who wrapped me in their arms and covered me in the blankets of love and support. I spent my first days with his family planning the service and burial. It was the first time I can ever remember my papa, the strongest man with more conviction than any person I have ever known, cry. He cried because for once he couldn't fix it. He couldn't kiss it or put a band aid on it. He was powerless to do anything to make the pain go away. He told the one thing that meant the most. "You will live through this, you will make it through and there is a silver lining in the darkest cloud you've ever seen. You will make it through because I will not lose you to this." He said, "Look into to the face of that beautiful blonde hair blued eyed baby and live for her when you think you have nothing to live for." I've done what he told me to. I've lived for her when I thought I had nothing to live for because when I look at her I realize I have everything to live for and nothing to lose doing it. She literally saved my life when nobody else could get in. She saved my life because of him and what he said to me that day. This is not even the half of it.
When my son Riley came along the following April I was again terrified. Not for the reasons you may think. I was terrified because I didn't have a clue of what I was going to do. I didn't know if I was going to raise him or let someone else. When I found out I was pregnant it was just a few months after Chris died and this baby that was growing in my belly wasn't his and I wanted it to be. I wanted a piece of him to hold on to. I miscarried before getting pregnant with Riley even though the test said I wasn't, I knew I was. My cycle was late and I was tired, sick and not just myself. I miscarried and was in the worst pain of my life. Then I got pregnant with Riley. I found out when I was having a lot of back pain and went in to the Er alone. I didn't tell anyone for weeks. I thought that maybe it was a freak thing and the tests were wrong. I didn't go out and do stupid stuff like drink or smoke I was just in denial. Chris had only been gone 4 months. I felt like I had cheated on him. I did the only thing that ever worked for me. I laid down that night and I prayed. Chris came to me in a dream. I was standing in a friend's bathroom doing my hair, he walked up behind me, put his chin on my shoulder, wrapped his arms around my expanding belly, looked at me in the mirror, smiled the big cheesy smile and said baby. That was it for me. I knew I was going to love this baby and raise this baby because that's what he would want and I wasn't afraid anymore. Riley has Chris's middle name of Michael. Which means who is like God? Which is very fitting because he is my angel and I think he's perfect?
I got back to my room after being in recovery for an hour. Papa waited for a few hours to come to the hospital. He still hated them but he still came down. He sat in a chair and I handed over my son. The son that will carry on our family name and I said "Papa, meet your great grandson Riley." He looked at me like an excited child and then he looked at Riley and said "He's perfect." I had to agree. Riley is Papa's side kick. I remember when he started to be able to sit up on his own I would take him in and set him on the bed next to Papa. For the longest time we called them the belly buddies. Why you may ask? The summers are not really all that hot here but they are sticky so I'd strip Riley down to his diaper and he would smile and laugh at his new found freedom. Papa to would sit around in his shorts and they would sit side by side watching television or making goofy faces at each other. The two of them were inseparable. Even on the days I had to work and had a sitter Papa would volunteer to watch him. He'd tell me to leave, go with my friends and have fun and not to worry about Riley. After all he'd raised 3 boys which were not his but raised 2 daughters who were. So I would. I'd leave my two favorite men at home and came home many a night to find Riley sleeping on Papa's chest or in his bed while Papa played on his computer. He never let my little man out of his sight. Anything Riley wanted he got. Papa would say "He's not spoiled he's loved very much." To all this is very true.
My point is, no matter what I've gone through or will go through I've always got a heart that will love me until we die. He helped raise me and is helping me to raise my children. I can go to him and just sit on the floor with my head on his lap and he just knows. He knows me because I am so much like my Papa and you know what, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. So that's why when he goes in for open heart surgery in two weeks I'll be there every day praying. Praying for this man that loved me, helped me find myself and taught me more than anyone else ever has. I'll be praying for him in case of a bad spot, I'll be praying while he's recovering and I'll be praying that he will be around long enough to walk me down the aisle and give me away to a man who will love me like he always has.
Thanks Dani-girl for giving me the idea to write this because this is something that I will hold in my heart forever. It's also something I can share with those I love and give those who don't' really know me an insight in to who I really am and where I come from.