...respect is just the minimum...


"Every breath contains our greatest fear-that there may not be another, and our greatest joy-that there is."

i've realized that my greatest fear is growing old.

my grandfather is about 95. essentially, he is in good health. a vegetarian who up to last year lived on his own and went for daily walks (regardless of the weather). i remember being in my first year of university and living in an area that was about a 30-45 minute bus ride from his apartment. there was a really horrible snow storm, so much so that most businesses were closed and my classes had been cancelled. i sat at home, curled up in front of the television, enjoying the day off when the doorbell rang. i was immediately confused because with the way that the weather was brewing, i doubted that even deliveries would be occuring. i opened the door to see my grandfather, who had probably just turned 90 at that time, standing on the doorstep covered in snow bundled up to the point that only his eyes were visible. i ushered him in questioning what the hell he was doing outside in weather like this. he held up a plastic grocery bag, offering it to me saying, "i brought you some apples, i thought you would like them". touched, i tried to convince him to stay instead of trudging back out in the storm. however, he insisted that he had to go immediately because he had to reuse his bus transfer (he didn't want to have to pay a second fare).

i will always remember that moment. that is perhaps one of my strongest memories of my grandfather in his prime.

fastfoward to present day, i now look at my grandfather almost daily with tears in my eyes.

they say he's 'travelling'. that he's in that 'in between' phase of life and death. he sees and hears things/people (that none of us see), these 'demons' haunt him. so much so, that he's taken to fighting with them verbally and on one occasion, physically. he's exhibiting classic signs of dementia but listening carefully to the conversations he has with these individuals, they are people he's known in his life. he's spoken of his dead daughter, pleading that St. Michael watch over her. he's spoken of her ex-husband, a man he despised. he's cried about his funeral and the coffin that was chosen and has described being 'chased' by this coffin.

i love my grandfather, but i know that in his prime he was a ruthless, arrogant man whom many disliked. with his age, he softened. i've heard my father and his brothers remark that the man that we see now is a total opposite from the business man that my grandfather was. he was a trinidadian victor newman. heartless at times, but doing what needed to be done to provide for his family and to make and keep a dollar. it seems that this is all coming back to haunt him now. i've heard the stories of how he treated my aunt, his only daughter; and she is the one who apparently haunts him the most.

over the last year, these voices have become louder and louder. he's deteriorated to the point where he can no longer live on his own not just because we fear for him but also because he's now become fearful that 'they'll come for him while he's alone'. we've had him seen by numerous doctors who all come back with the same conclusion: medically he's in the best possible health he could be; they feel that his 'condition' is not one that is medical but instead one that is spiritual/religious. and you know how scientific doctors can be, so if they've made these comments; then what else could it be?

i have so many questions for him, answers i need before he passes. something that i know is coming upon us sooner that we had all anticipated. but obtaining these answers is made even more difficult by the fact that he has become deaf in his old age. i look at him, sitting on the couch. screaming at the demons, cursing the demons. and there are tears in my eyes.

how will i deal with getting to that age? more importantly, will i get to that age?


  • At Tue. Mar. 01, 10:19:00 a.m. EST, Blogger obifromsouthlondon said…

    that's touched something deep. I aint seen my grandmum for some years now and I think she's 93. Feel bad all the time. Age the great leveller. like they say we start to pass away from the moment we are born. Fear of getting old is real. Fear of dying/death is even realer (is there such a word?). What does the terminally ill person do? like the song goes "I hope I'm old before I die". Getting old doesn't seem so bad afterall.

    I think your grandpa's a good guy. weathering the storm to give those apples shows where his heart is. It kinda defines him. Whatever he has done in his past he has atoned for in some way. Ying and Yang. balance achieved through other deeds. We all have demons just that sometimes we can't control how they affect us. keep praying for him.

    peace sweetheart

  • At Tue. Mar. 01, 09:22:00 p.m. EST, Blogger piscessoul said…

    thanks for the comments obi. spending these last moments with him has helped me to appreciate just how precious life is. and more so, how important it is to connect with our elders. they are such a great source of knowledge. i hope you're able to reach out to your grandmum and connect with her in this lifetime. but even if you aren't able to, there's always the next lifetime.

  • At Mon. Mar. 07, 09:21:00 p.m. EST, Blogger nehanda said…

    elders are so important in helping us shape our lives..i wish you and yr grand pa an enriching time together..

  • At Tue. Mar. 22, 05:33:00 a.m. EST, Blogger NeenaLove said…

    after reading your post, it's safe to assume that NOTHING goes unnoticed. some things we do just may take a little time to catch up to us.

    i thoroughly enjoyed it!!! consider me a faithful reader.


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