Hospice

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Family, they can teach us so many things in unlikely ways. The last two weeks I spent at a hospice surrounded by my mother’s side of the family. At only about seven years old I knew what was going to happen and it was only a matter of time. My Great Grandpa Witrock was lying on the hospital bed with his eyes closed. All of a sudden his eyelids began to flutter a little. I looked up at the nurse and asked in a small timid voice, “Does that mean he’s gonna wake up?”

“No sweetie, that just means he’s dreaming in his sleep,” she responded, “Maybe of you and your family.”

Later on that same day my mom suggested that we say goodbye to Grandpa Witrock before we went on a quick errand to the mechanics to pick up Grandma’s car. My Grandma patted her father’s arm as he silently snoozed on. My mom stroked his wrist and whispered a quick “I love you.” I squeezed his left hand and begged him to be awake when we came back. His hand was covered in thin paper-like skin that only old people have. We left after I insisted on giving my Uncle Bob a hug.

Halfway to the garage, Grandma’s cell phone rang. We were informed that Grandpa Witrock had taken his last breath. We made a U-turn and hurried back to the hospice. When we entered the too familiar room we were greeted by hugs and Kleenex boxes being passed. All of the machines that had helped keep Grandpa Witrock alive were removed and his eyelids were still. Uncle Bob squished me to his chest while I violently shook with tears streaming out of my eyes. He was sobbing already and I had never seen him cry before. At that moment I knew that Great Grandpa was gone and he wasn’t going to awaken ever again.

I’ve never been able to forget the sight of uncle Bob’s face covered in tears. When I look back I always think of a strong, humorous man and I remember his hearty laugh. He showed me that he can still be all of those things and also sensitive. Even a guy as happy as him misses loved ones. Basically, he unknowingly taught me that it’s okay to cry over things that gibing you pain and that it’s okay to smile when you’re happy.

I was an extremely shy child and never really smiled. My second grade teacher told my mom that the only way she could tell if I was upset or overjoyed was by my eyes. I bet that if I were to visit her right now she’d know right away how I was feeling without even glancing into my eyes. Now I smile and laugh all the time because I’ve become more comfortable around people. I’ve even opened up and expressed some of my worries and revealed some tears. Uncle Bob is the one responsible for my constant displays of emotion and my ability to be relaxed around other people.





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