Saturday, August 22, 2015

Grandpa Andrew I Jensen

I don't even know how or where to start this post.  I have put it off for many months now, just not knowing what to say.  I decided to just type.  It may be random, but its my memories.
 My grandpa moved to Nampa, Idaho around September 2014.  Most were not happy about this move, but I was super excited.  I knew his health was deteriorating due to his cancer diagnosis.  When my grandma was sick, I had been scheduled to go spend Thanksgiving there, but she said not to come because the roads were not good.  Then she got sicker and sicker.  I made plans to see her and then her health rallied, so those plans were put on hold.  The next thing I knew, she died.  I had so much regret and guilt about not going to see her and say goodbye.  I know she loved me and I know she knew of my love for her, but I carried that burden for sometime.  The funeral was hard and I never returned to her home in Cedar City after her funeral.  I just couldn't do it.  Well, I felt this was my 2nd chance.  I would see my grandpa as much as I could for as long as I could.  Well, In February I got the call that he had been taken to the hospital unable to breath and was in the ICU.  I went to the hospital multiple times per day for the week he was there.  There were days I didn't think he would make it out of that hospital alive.  I called family and let them know that.  They came to say good byes and then he rallied.  He went to a care facility for a few days, then headed home.  I checked in on him daily for a few weeks until he was again taken to the hospital.  The doctors indicated he needed blood transfusions and lots of help.  As an employee of the hospital, I felt like they were honest with me and let me know that what he was experiencing was the stages of dying.  We knew he wouldn't get better, but I just wanted more time with him.  We had conversation in that hospital and grandpa decided he just wanted to go home, even if that meant to die.  We made that promise that we would do whatever we could do to make that happen.  Monday night he went home from the hospital.  We set up schedules that someone would be there 24/7 to help care for him.  Wednesday hospice came in and began checking in on him.  This picture was taken on Sunday, March 1, 2015.  Mark and the kids came over while I was there watching grandpa.  Mark offered a blessing.  In this blessing grandpa was told his time was nearing and end, but the people caring for him had more to learn...Family came to say good bye, or phone calls were made when grandpa could hear and/or talk.  Monday night I stayed with him.  This was the last night he would get up on his own to use the bathroom.  I joked, exhausted the next morning, that I felt like I wrestled a bear all night long.  He wanted so much to maintain his independence, but he just didn't have the strength to do so (as he had not eaten for a full week by this time).  There was so much confusion setting into him.  His hearing was less than it had been due to his decreased mental state.  Once his legs would no longer hold up his body, I decided it was time to administer medication to him (morphine).  This was such a hard decision for me.  I know that once started, his life would more than likely be over within 3 days.  Oh, the burden that decision left on my shoulders.  I knew what was right for him, but I struggled with being the one to do it.  He no longer was conscious after that.  The firemen came in and moved him from his beloved chair to the hospital bed.  There he was checked on until Wednesday when his breathing and heart rate indicated his death was imminent.  I sat in the chair closest to his bed all night long.  I gave him medications I thought would help him as he journeyed from this world to the next.   I rubbed his head, I kissed his head, I combed his hair (the longest I had ever seen it in my life), I rubbed his legs, I kissed his hand and I prayed for him.  He took his last breath as I sat on the foot of his bed.  I touched his neck to see if a pulse was there.  It was still.  Hospice was called, the coroner was called and family was called.  I sat and pondered.  I found joy that he would be with my grandma.  I asked he be dressed by hospice for I knew he had a long drive to Utah for his services and burial.  I then left him in the care of the hospice nurse and the funeral home.  Through it all the Lord offered me sweet tender mercies that I will never forget.  The way grandpa would hold me hand, look me in the eye, and tell me so lovingly how much he loved me, or how important family was to him.  I got to experience his great sense of humor to the end.  He told me of his dreams at night of hitting kids with snowballs or wanting a gun so he would shoot the cowboys and Indians that were fighting each other in the living room.  I would sleep on the couch next to him nightly and when he would move I would ask him, "are you ok" and he would say yes and go back to bed.  Soon, when he would move he would say "I'm ok" and then go back to bed, sparing me from asking.  One night, amidst great confusion, the room was silent and his sweet voice called me by name.  He knew who I was and that I was there to care for him.  What comfort that brought to me that night.  I also got a better understanding of the atonement.  One night, I plead for the Lord to take my grandpa out of his pain and suffering and I learned in that moment things I had never understood before that touched me deeply.  I look back and wonder if those weren't the things his blessings said I needed to learn...As difficult of a journey it was for me, I am forever thankful I was here to help my grandpa up until his last breath.  I look forward to the day we will be reunited.  I am thankful to know of the plan of our Heavenly Father and know that he is with his dear wife, my grandpa and together they are watching over me and my family.      
In all honesty, I did not want to attend the services for my grandpa.  I had just endured something so hard.  I watched him go from a strong man (that never complained about the pain he was in), to a thin frail man and it was all under my watch.  Logically I knew I did nothing wrong, but emotionally I wanted to save him.  I wanted him to improve and still be around.  I knew that with the cancer he had, there was no getting better, but I would have given anything for more time.  I also had the guilt that realistically I had killed him.  The last thing I wanted to do was to face my family that loved him as dearly as I did.  But, I sucked it up, packed up the car and my sweet little 5 year old and off we went to face the thing I dreaded the most. 
I was so thankful for the funeral home that offered the great grand kids the opportunity to "tuck" grandpa in.  Chase had been with me while I cared for grandpa.  They had talked and laughed together.  Chase was there Wednesday in the evening before grandpa died.  This allowed him some closure and to know if is just a body because grandpa's spirit was already gone.  He was given a guardian pin that he wore for weeks, that reminded him grandpa was with him. 

Totally unexpected part...Dad and Ken had asked me to sit in the chairs at the funeral.  I said no, that was for family.  He assured me it would be ok.  I sat down in the first chair next to him and then was told I needed to change with Ken.  I figured "of course" they need to give Ken the flag (since he had military honors).  It only seemed reasonable that would be the first chair.  Ceremonies went on and dad asked Chase to sit on his lap.  Again...I was totally oblivious.  Soon the flag was folded and before I knew it, the officer stood in front of me.  The tears began to flow uncontrollably. 
He knelt in front of me and presented me the flag.  I was speechless.  I was then presented with the shell casings from the guns that were fired to salute my grandpa.  After the graveside services I asked my dad if he wanted the flag, as I in now way deserved such a thing over his own sons.  It was explained to me that he and Ken had talked about it and wanted me to have it for their appreciation of the care I had given grandpa.  What an honor and a blessing.  I have that flag in its care right next to a picture of him in his navy uniform.  Even now, I look at those things and remember the blessing bestowed upon me by knowing such a great man and learning from such a man.    

Family that was able to come to the services

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