Saturday, August 27, 2011

Life is What You Make it

My grandfather, we call him Gramps, will be 90 years old in May, but this week his doctor recommended hospice care. A few months ago we were told that his cancer was back, but it was too far gone and he was too weak to progress with any kind of treatment. After getting choked often while eating, to the point of needing the Heimlich, he now has a feed tube - a port where his meals are poured out of a can into a tube and straight into his stomach - 5 times a day.

Through it all my grandmother has been there - for the hospital stays, the new treatment regimens, all of the visits to all of the doctors, and on the other end of the tube 5 times a day. She slept in their Volkswagen vanagon in the parking lot of the hospital in Amarillo the first time he had cancer, when they didn't know what he had, when they installed and when they fixed his defibrillator.

She was also at the coffee shop when my grandfather came in with his cousins the first time they met. She was there with his infant daughter when he got home from the war. She was there every night when he got home after work with his meal on the table and in the passengers seat as they explored all of the 50 states. She was there when they welcomed 2 daughters, 4 grand kids, and to date 6 great-grand kids.
During his last stay in the hospital some of her former students from more than 30 years ago approached her in the hallway and reminded her of their favorite thing about her class. She taught a Zig Ziglar "I Can"course and at the beginning of each class they would do a cheer saying, "Act Enthusiastic and You'll Be Enthusiastic!" They would all chant in unison three times before each class. The irony of lyrically repeating THAT phrase outside her partner of more than 60 years hospital room... but sometimes it's true.

You can succumb to what life hands you - growing up with an alcoholic, abusive father or dealing with the passing of your mother as a young boy - or you can choose to live a beautiful life, to leave a legacy, to be there.

Every day that the sun comes up, you have to purpose to make it a great day. Do the best you have with what you're given and live to make your memories part of your happiness.

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