Both of my daughters were in town this weekend; and that's always a good time. The main reason for being here was to go to the baseball game today with their dad; the last regular season home game in this Busch Stadium. So they came into town with great expectations of a great weekend.
I was not feeling great that I was going to have to rain on their parade somewhat.
Earlier in the week, my dad had gotten a diagnosis of colon cancer. Tests are still being run, but we're hoping it's been caught early and that things will work out well. But my girls idolize their grandpa and I knew this was going to be tough for them to hear. It's an awful feeling to know you are going to have to tell your daughters something that's going to make them cry. I'm not talking about situations such as telling Meghan she couldn't go sledding with her friends at Suicide Hill. She threw an impressive tantrum then, but her world wasn't rocked. The only other time I've had to do something like this was when her Dad and I had to tell them about splitting up. As they sat in front of us listening to us, their little faces crumpled at the news. Meghan was 4 then and I remember that she kept sneaking looks over at Jenni to see if she should still be crying.
Friday night, I gave Jenni and her husband the news. Her face crumpled as I knew it would. She enjoys fishing trips with her grandpa and she got her love of crossword puzzles from him. Just a couple of months ago, while she was working on a crossword puzzle on a family fishing trip, she told her grandpa that some of her favorite memories are of the times she spent sitting on his lap when she was little and "helping" him with the puzzles. Her husband was upset as well, saying he hadn't known his grandfathers and felt lucky in having Dad as his surrogate Grandpa.
Meghan got into town yesterday around noon and began making her plans to fill up ever minute of her visit with activities. As she busily started listing everything she had to do, I kept saying, "Meghan....Meghan.....Meghan....." but she just kept rolling nonstop.
She was on her way out of the door to the first activity on her list and I darn near had to drag her in and get her to sit down. I told her. Her face crumpled the same way as her sister's. When she's home during the summer, she schedules at least one lunch a week with her grandparents; and on weekends home, makes sure she can work in a visit with them. As she sat there crying, she told me that on the drive home from school, she told her friends that her big fear is something happening to her grandparents.
We had a family card game yesterday before dinner, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. During the game, we had the opportunity to talk to Dad about the diagnosis. The girls had no problems asking questions about what is going on and what happens next; and Dad had no problem answering them.
Fortunately, Dad has always been able to express his feelings to his family. One of my favorite memories was when I was sleeping when I was about 12. I woke up and found Dad standing over me, smiling. He gently rubbed my face with the back side of his hand and said, "you are so precious." He went to each of my sisters and did the same -- which they slept through.
I've noticed in the last couple of years, he has kicked that up a notch. During family gatherings, he's made a point to tell us how much he's enjoying himself. After the family golf outing at Jenni's graduation this past July, and the fishing trip this past August, he's said that if he had to leave this life at that moment, he'd leave a happy man. He's also said that heaven must be a lot like this.
Mom said he's doing very well with the news and that he's either numb or it hasn't hit him yet. I think his attitude before hearing the news has a lot to do with it. While he's in no hurry, he's ready if he's called Home.
And, it's still early. We have a lot to learn in the next few days about his condition and hopefully this has been caught early and there will be more fishing trips and crossword puzzles.