Letting go of loved ones

By Nina Scimenes
April 21, 2005

My cell phone rang with my dad on the other line. “Hey, where are you? And who are you with?” That was the first thing that my father said to me. My first reaction was that I was in some kind of trouble. The tone of his voice was very stern, yet also shaky at the same time. I knew something was wrong, but my guilty conscience convinced me it had something to do with the night before, my 21st birthday. Boy, I was way off! April 10 was a day that I knew would come, but I had no idea when. I will never forget this day. It is the day that Pop-pop died.

Even when you know it is coming, you can never be prepared for death. After suffering for 15 months from terminal brain cancer, my grandfather was finally at peace. He passed away in a hospital bed in the living room of his home; this is where he spent the last year of his life. On March 26th, he turned the “young” age of 75. He was extremely healthy until the age of 73. Pop-pop was the happiest man I have ever known, but now he is no longer with us.

My grandfather was a strong, healthy man before last January. He had to undergo a routine biopsy to detect cancer on a brain tumor. No matter how routine, brain surgery is very risky. During the surgery he had a stroke, which paralyzed his left side and impaired his speech and motor skills. Brain surgery is like gambling with God, only he knows your hand.

Ironically, the night before my grandpa passed away, I was gambling with something else, money. Even though money is tangible, you cannot hold on to it long enough. Money can’t buy love. There is no comparison to family. My family is so richly blessed to have each other at a time so hard to bear. The love that we share with each other is the glue that keeps us together and the energy that keeps us going.

My grandfather left behind five children, seven grandchildren and a beloved wife. During the time that my grandfather suffered from cancer on his death bed, we were all by his side. He lived the last days of his life through us. He would listen to stories about how us, the grandkids, were doing, what we saw and where we have been. The saddest part was that he could not respond to us in words because he started to lose his sense of communication. I knew he had a million things he wanted to tell us. I just wish I could have heard them all.

Now that he is in heaven, he will be able to be with us wherever we are. I know there is never a good time for death, but I really think in his case, the sooner the better. We want to remember him how he was before he was sick.

I remember him as the man who started taking up new things at an old age. He became younger everyday. As a 70-year-ol,d he started taking yoga classes. His smile is so genuine that I could never forget it. During the summer I have many memories of him catching waves at the Jersey shore. He used to stay in the water the longest and never wanted to go home. He enjoyed every second of his life and has inspired me to do the same. Every opportunity that I am given to experience life in a new way, I take it.

This hard situation for my family could not have been any timelier. This year the public has been watching the case of Terri Schiavo. Her family has been caught up in an extreme case dealing with euthanasia. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and only God can decide when a person’s battle with life is completed. The fight that my grandfather had been overcoming finally came to an end. His bravery will never be forgotten. “God’s picking the All-Star team, first the pope, now Pop-pop,” said a family friend at the wake.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Nina Scimenes

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