Occasionally I get a reminder to stay focused on the important things ... like today! I am trying not to cry as I write today's blog. This photoshoot was definitely one I will always remember, not just because it was my grandparents but because it created a fun, long and lasting memory. Without photography I wouldn't have had that experience and created that memory. I made my grandparents go against their 'mature' mentality and show a little 'PDA' (Public Displays of Affection). It was fun to watch and had us all in laughter including my grandparents!
Grandad has Parkinson's Disease, I didn't quite realise this in my younger years or understand exactly what it was. But slowly over the years your body deteriorates (www.parkinsons.org.au). I think the hardest part for my grandfather is having a body that doesn't work but his mind still is (well was). He has always played such significant roles in my life personally and I will always be blessed for it. I value the fact that he got to marry my husband and I for all Time and Eternity amongst other major factors in my life.
Without realising it or saying it, my father always had us treat Grandad as the family Patriarch in all we did. If ever I had a question about anything, even if my father knew the answer he would make me phone my grandfather for the answer! A part of me still turns to my grandfather, sometimes you don't even have to say anything to him - he would just be there! He always seems to know the right thing to say and always makes you feel like what you are talking about is important.
Watching him deteriorate with this disease is harder then I imaged. I have never lived in close proximity to my grandparents. The house is still the same when I go there (other then the rottweiler in the backyard being replaced by a jumpy little rat, the ramp out the front, and the microfiche reader is replaced by a computer), I feel comfortable and at ease amongst the simple things in life. Then I look at my Grandad and I don't see the same man.
As I fight back the tears so he doesn't see me crying, I understand that he's at an age where this is going to be a reality we have to face eventually. I don't like change much! My children inparticular my eldest daughter has ALWAYS adored her great-grandfather. I can truly say she's lucky to even know her great-grandfather, because many do not even get that chance. She has this gentle and loving nature when she's around him thats sweet to watch.
The last time we were in his area, recognising we were close by she started screaming and crying at me to let her go in and see him (she's 3 1/2 years old). It's hard, because any ounce of sickness we need to stay away incase we pass it on. I eventually gave in and took her over, letting her run into the house and up to give him a hug.
Grandad doesn't say much anymore and if he does its hard to understand what he is saying. His expressions are becoming less but when my daughter hugged him he smiled a certain smile whilst his face lit up. In his frail state he picks her up (as he does every time she runs to him), we dispute his decision to lift her (as we do every time he picks her up). But I let them have their moment. I replay that over and over in my head. Their was something about that smile I wish my daughter could understand.
Each time I say goodbye, I don't know if it's going to be my last time, so I solemnly get in my car and let the tears that I fought back in the house flow. The girls continue their chatter about seeing Grandma & Grandad, my husband often quietly holds my hand whilst I stare out the window crying. Waving goodbye to my grandparents who without fail always stand on their verandah to wave back until we have driven past. I hold on to that view till its out of sight and store it in my memory hoping for another one.
I want to say to my Grandad that I love you and I want to be selfish and tell you not to go anywhere because I need you in my life to answer my questions and to support me in all my decisions. I want you to always be there when I come by, and be standing on that verandah waving us goodbye. I want you to be around for when Penrith Panthers win a game and you're happy and mobile again. Or for when my children get older so they too can appreciate your stories, your knowledge and your funny digs at Grandma when she does something whacky. I want to tell you to stop being sick and bring back the Grandad I can talk to.
But I can't be selfish. Every year I pray that this isn't your year to go, because I don't want you too, or because really, I am afraid of death and I haven't told you everything yet. But I'm telling you now that I love you even if you already know!