I visited my grandfather on Wednesday. Tired and delirious from a morning shift, it didn’t matter. Hospitals always confuse me; so many parking lots, so many entrances, dozens of signs to follow to get to the correct floor, the correct room. I asked for help and someone directed me to the main elevators, where I rode one up to the fourth floor. I already knew the room number. The door was open and his back was to me while he sat on the edge of the bed, talking to someone on the telephone. His hospital gown wasn’t pulled tight and most of his back was exposed. I smiled at my grandmother, who noticed me first, and saw a staff member mopping the floor behind the curtain that separated his bed from the one on the other side of the room. There was no patient on the other side.
I greeted her with a kiss and waited for my grandfather to finish his conversation, which he quickly did and kissed me hello. I sat on the edge of the bed and we talked for a minute. He asked me how I was. I asked him how he was. I stared at the network of tubes and tape and patches keeping needles secure, the hanging bags that pumped I don’t even know what into his body. Just then a friend of his walked in. Nice guy, but bad timing as I wanted some time alone with my grandfather. Ah, well. the friend sat next to my grandfather’s bed and I moved over to talk with my grandmother.
I leaned against the heating vent and crossed my arms. I stared at the floor. She had tears in her eyes. “Now what?” was all I could muster. She told me about the heart valves; two of them are useless, one is barely working, they couldn’t find the fourth. “What do you mean they can’t find it?” I asked. “They’ve tried twice already,” she said. “We’re waiting for them to bring him down to try again.”
“When they find it, what happens if it’s in good shape?” I asked. I don’t remember what she said. I just remember more tears, and pulling her head to my chest while I touched her hair. It was soft. The tears started for me, too, but either my grandfather didn’t notice or he pretended not to.
He was laying back down at this point, his feet crossed while he chatted with the friend. I looked him over. “Nice socks,” I said.
“Grey means you’re going home,” my grandmother said. “Red means you’re being admitted.” His were red.
I leaned back again. “Let’s take this one day at a time, let’s focus,” I said to my grandmother.
That’s when she said something that stuck to me, and hasn’t let go of my heart since.
“If they could tell me I can have him for ten more years, I’d be happy. But after that I’d want ten more.”
As a child, I was “sure” of a few things:
1.) My parents loved each other because they are my parents, my grandparents loved each other because they are my grandparents.
2.) Marriage always equaled love.
3.) Kissing a boy could get a girl pregnant.
Then I grew up, I got my heart broken, I broke a few myself, and I found Joe. That’s when I learned that love is a series of dips and grooves; it is not this lifeless thing full of assumptions. The word love embodies both good and bad, it is the representative for people who would do anything for each other. Love is a look, it’s a touch of the hand, it’s a kiss on the forehead, it’s sitting next to your husband’s hospital bed and praying with your whole self for a miracle.
No, marriage doesn’t always equal love, but in the case of my parents and grandparents, that’s exactly what it equals. I was correct in assuming my grandparents loved each other, but I’d never seen it in action, I’d never had it right in front of my eyes like that. She didn’t speak those words on her own. Her heart said them for her.
We talked for a while longer, me sitting on the edge of my grandfather’s bed again. Then the nurse finally came in to take him down for another test. “They better find it this time,” I said. And they did. My grandfather is now on the list for a heart transplant. We need those well wishes more than ever.
Thank you so much to those who sent your positive thoughts our way. I have the best blogging family on all of WordPress.