I don't know how to tell the story of my grandfather dying.
Every day there is at least one e-mail in my inbox documenting his rapid decline. It's only been three weeks since he was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer.
It's been less than three months since I last saw him. Since we walked together, and sat chatting poolside while the kids played.
Three months before that he was still regularly playing tennis, before stopping for his usual summer break as the heat in Florida became too unbearable and his usual partners made their summer treks back north.
But three days ago my mother sat at my kitchen table, tears in her eyes, telling me what it's like to be watching her father die. Preparing herself to fly back to Florida the next day to stay with him until the end. Which cannot be far off. It is happening incredibly quickly, although the days of caring for him creep by incredibly slowly.
Growing up I knew I was lucky to have all four of my grandparents alive. All 4 were there for my confirmation. My high school graduation. My college graduation. My wedding.
My grandfather is the last man standing.
He has lived a full and active 86 years. He will likely die in his own home (thanks to Hospice and the generous care of his three children).
The May Queen has a special relationship with him. For the longest time she insisted he be called Great Grandpa [Maypole]. If I left his surname out in referring to him, I was scolded. He would pretend to nap on the couch while she piled him high with stuffed animals, then he would "wake up" and scare her. She would giggle. He would grab an animal and chase her in circles around the house. He played endless games with her. They sat at our kitchen table and colored. He allowed her to dress him up in the silliest outfits.
When she heard that her Great Grandpa was sick, she immediately wanted to go visit him. I debated it, but quickly realized it would not be good. I want her to remember him as he was, not as he is now. They just had a wonderful time together this summer. She said to my mother "you're so lucky you get to go see Great Grandpa." It broke my heart. Is it lucky to watch and wait for your father to die?
But we have been lucky. The May Queen has been lucky. Because she got to know him, her great grandfather.