Anna G. Joujan
© Copyright 2019 by Anna G.
Photo (c) 2019 by Richard Loller.
has no sense
of decorum. So it did not occur to me to question my actions when I
interrupted the chaplain, with his head bowed and hands folded, to
place myself in front of my grandfather’s
face. As he tugged on the tubes, wildly waving his hands,
craning his neck up while his head turned side to side, I planted my
face in front of his. “Hi PaCharley,” I said. Over. And
over. I saw his clear blue eyes. I saw him.
He saw me.
stoic, walls-up, business-mode, yesterday my dam broke. Intending to
call my husband, and update him on the coming family meeting at the
hospital, instead I lost it. “I can’t do it. I can’t
do it. I’m so sorry . . .” It was an involuntary,
illogical (so I thought) reaction, but I lost all control.
our year gone as
planned, we would not be here now. We would be in the flurries of
school life, finishing out the year in Ghana. Only after arriving
would we find out the family business that would occupy us so
completely, for so many weeks, that would pass in a rapid blur.
past couple of months, I have questioned what I’m doing here at
all. With nothing tangible to account for our days, they have, at
times, felt wasted. And the “work” we’ve been doing
has left me painfully aware of my shortcomings. I have been impatient
with errand-running and hospital visits, and bad-attitudey about the
changed grandfather he seemed to be.
man who never
met a soul he didn’t like would now complain about doctors and
nurses. The man who was always in a good mood spoke constantly of how
bad he felt, and how much the tubes, the pricks, and the medicines
were bugging him. He fought back, trying to coax forbidden foods and
drinks from unsuspecting visitors. And I watched, stunned at the
changes in this man I’d loved all my life. Mind you, he still
had good moments and “normal” days as well, but the
negative moments were so shocking to my perfect image of him that
they overshadowed the good. I wondered why he couldn’t let
people do what they needed to do to care for him, and I even resented
the trouble caused for those closest to him.
realized how wrong my perception had been. When I saw him—and
when he saw me—all
think was I get it.
I see. I see.
see a man who has lived 92 beautiful and full years. A man who has
given himself, without reservation, to his children, his
grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren. A man who has worked
hard, running his own business and rising up from the depression era.
A man who fought well, who “won,” as his great grandson
aptly noted, as a good, good soldier. A man who “fought the
good fight, [who] finished the race . . .” (2 Timothy 4: 7-8,
now, for the
past few months, he has been unable to care for others, wholly
dependent on the help of those of us who had always before come to
him for that same help. He never wanted anyone to trouble themselves
over him. He never wanted to be a burden, on anyone. And when the
time came for his independence to be gone, he fought back.
week ago, on his
70th anniversary, he told my grandmother that he intended to be home
in a week. He told her this as if he was going to get back to
independent living in the house he had loved for 50 years. But when
my sister relayed this to me over the phone last night we knew what
had happened. PaCharley was true to his word. PaCharley found his way
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