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The reason for my trip to Michigan was to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Not only is that a crazy milestone, but my grandpa’s health is quickly dwindling (six years ago he was diagnosed with supranuclear palsy) so I knew it was something that I couldn’t miss.

It’s not easy, coming home to see my grandpa in such a state. I hear about it from my mom, and have watched the drastic difference in him each time I make the trip to Michigan, but this time….it was really apparent just how bad things have gotten.

I guess I thought I would find a sense of closure this time, just in case. But I can’t say I did. My grandpa’s disease takes away his muscle control, and not only is it really difficult, and sometimes impossible, for him to move, but such is true when it comes to talking as well. It’s hard for him to participate in conversation because the words come out so (soooooo) slowly.

His frustration with the disease is sometimes expressed with anger. This is something I had heard about from my mom, but had not yet seen. And it is definitely something I could have gone without seeing.

So, it’s hard. It’s hard going home in some ways. It’s not the “home” I remember. Things have changed, as they do with time. And I know that I have changed as well. It’s life, but it does make me a little sad to realize that home doesn’t feel quite like home anymore. xo JA

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • I’m sorry to hear about your grandpa. I know it’s cliche and cheesy, but try focusing on the good. Especially 60 years of commitment, love, trust, devotion…marriage. Your grandparents are strong. Your grandpa is still strong, even in his weakness. <3


  • Carly says:

    Aw, it sounds like a bittersweet trip. I’m sure in the future, you’ll be glad you went!


  • I’m sorry to hear about your grandpa! Make the most of the time you have with him and remember the good, as Chelsea commented.

  • I think it’s so hard watching grandparents age. My grandma is 94 and lately she is struggling with her health and I can hardly handle knowing she is in pain. 🙁

    I’m glad you were able to see him though!

  • Heidi says:

    I dealt with a similar thing with my grandfather as he had long dealt with failing kidneys. When I left Indiana for college and then moved to Baltimore, I only got to see him once or twice a year over a seven year period. It became much more noticeable as his health dwindled. I took in as much as I could get through those visits and even phone calls on his birthday and such and am so glad I did. Even though they were tough moments, I am glad that I was still able to spend that time with him before he passed. Finding closure is not easy and to some extent I don’t think you ever find complete closure. Even if he isn’t the same person on the outside, it’s helpful to think that he is the same person in his heart. I’m glad that you were able to spend that time with your grandfather even if it was difficult!

  • It is never easy seeing your loved ones going through health issues, especially in their old age. I work in the long term care setting – some elderly fight accepting their changes like your gramps and others roll with it. Either way it is heartbreaking, and the best thing you can probably do is to show your support and love (whether it be regularly checking in once a week on the phone) and to try to make him feel as comfortable as possible!! Take care.

  • Pamela Bates says:

    Well, I’ll tell you this, no matter what’s going on in your life home is never ‘quite the same’ and a lot of it is because of growing as a person and seeing things from adult perspective. throw in the challenging illness your gramps has and that makes even harder. Still………as I can see in your pictures and as one of my illustrations says ‘home is the place where our hearts meet’.
    nothing ever remains just the same. you have to find the bits that have as well as finding new reasons to love it. I’m sorry your grandpa is dealing with this, as is the rest of the family. These major health issues are things many of us face as our families age. But relish the moments you have together just the same, like the celebration of your grandparents 60th!~! My parents will celebrate there’s this september. each day is a gift.

  • ElleSee says:

    I’m glad you were able to make the trip to share in such a special moment. Cherish them.

    Hug 🙂

  • Cody Doll says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your grandpa. I never knew mine so it must be hard to know them and seeing them fading.

  • Alice says:

    Aww, I’m sorry to hear about your grandpa. It’s great that you had the chance to have this trip.

    Growing up sucks sometimes, doesn’t it? Lives go on, things change, you’re sometimes left with this bitter feeling, trying to adjust to change.


  • Anonymous says:

    I know how you feel. I’ve just moved home, moved my life to be with my best friend while a terminal lung cancer takes her life (we’re only 23) and to also be with my nan who is in a nursing home because physically her body can’t do it, however her brain is sharp. It’s hard. Seeing my best friend to not finish a sentence without loosing her breath and also seeing my nan, taking her to the bathroom, showering and dressing her in the past, walking her to dinner, helping her in and out of her chair and cutting up her food. It’s hard, however they know I love them and that is what your grandpa knows too 🙂 For me, it’s hard seeing two people I love very slowly slip by and it’s scary, but I am going to remain positive. It’s okay to be scared JA, but you will become a stronger person and realise you are capable of dealing with a lot of crap life throws your way and that you can keep going and continue to achieve great things. And you did are. Also I’m a speechie and understand how frustrating it is for the listener, but also the client to not be able to communicate. It’s heartbreaking, but my clients are some of the most inspiring and stoic people I know and that is your grandpa 🙂

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