We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one whom we love. ~Madame de Stael

The third week of March I got a text from my sister. Usually, her messages make me laugh. This time, the news was grim.

My Grandpa George (mom's dad) was sick. He'd gone in because of some pretty rapid weight loss and found out he had advanced liver and pancreatic cancer, several blood clots in his lungs and an aortic aneurysm. He was told he had three months to live at best. They admitted him that night to treat the blood clots.

My grandma, who has advanced dementia, was without her full time caregiver. And, Grandpa would never be able to care for her again. In day's time, our whole world was flipped upside down and turned inside out.

With every member of the family reeling, Marti and Brian stepped in and started getting the business side of things worked out. Grandma was admitted to a long term facilitly. And, after not seeing any changes for the better, the doctors pulled Grandpa off the blood thinners and told him he, too, would need to be admitted to a facility.

He went in to see his doctor about weight loss and hasn't gone back home. He has since moved into a lovely home near my mom's place. The same place where Grandma is. They share a room. It's very nice for what it is. The hard part for Grandpa is that his mind is not ill. He wants to do. Wants to help. Wants to LIVE. But, his body has reached it's mortal finish line. While he's been gracious about the whole thing, I'm sure the idea of your own mortality has him thinking a bit.

When we realized how sick he was, we packed up and took off the next day. My cousin, whom I hadn't seen in 18 years, met us there. My dad flew up. We descended upon my Grandpa to show him his family and to love him.

They held hands for a large part of our drive.
We drove all night hoping to make great time while the kids slept. That did not happen. We had chains on for 3 hours over the Sierra's. And the kids? They did not sleep. Neither did Allen. Or me.
We let off some steam at the Case Ranch.
Played with Rocket.
Spring had not sprung in Idaho.
Nana horsing around with Shawn.
Grandpa Phil with Addison and Lexi.
Grandma Leona. She doesn't know us. We call her by her first name or Mrs. George. She is much more receptive to that than trying to call her Grandma. I asked her if she'd take a picture with the kids (she adores kids) and she said yes.
Grandma discussing something of great importance with another resident.
The staff was very accommodating. They gave the kids a toy and let them run in the yard for hours. Here's my cousin, Andrea's, son Ashkon playing with Lexi and Addie. He and Lexi were  born 10 days apart.
Ashkon racing for that ball!
Flying high.

It's no secret that family tragedy brings out the best and worst in people. Marti had been juggling a lot of the administrative tasks for the family and had received some heat. Lots of cooks in that kitchen. She took it like a pro and didn't feel like kicking any shins ever! (K. That last bit was sarcasm. Extreme.)
The great grand kids. Emily, Addison, Ashkon, Lexi, Azy, Asha, Grandpa and Grandma.
The grand kids. Marti, Traci, Grandpa, Andrea and Grandma. Just a side note: we're missing: Nicole, Stephanie, Melissa and Tanya. Yah, all grand girls.
Grandpa, Grandma and Kellie.
Emily, Traci, Lexi, Grandpa, Grandma, Allen and Addison
Azy, Asha, Shawn, Grandpa, Ashkon, Grandma, and Andrea
Traci, Addison, Allen, Shawn, Andrea, Ashkon, Azy, Asha, Kellie, Grandpa, Grandma, Marti, Emily, Brian and Lexi.
Grandpa and Grandma
Grandpa Phil George.
While the reason for this trip was morbid and sad, the visit was extremely fulfilling. I'm so glad we chose to brave the weather, fight through hours of chain laden blizzard conditions, stay an extra two days in various locations and drive for a gazillion hours to have seen him. And talk with him. And just be. With him.

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What started as a way to communicate with far away friends and family has become a place for this horse trainer/HR manager turned stay at home mom of 3 girls to hold on to a bit of her own identity. It's my take on the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the thoughts and feelings, the mistakes and triumphs of this family as we bumble our way to eternity.