My grandpa Clyde died last night, surrounded by his wife and most of his eight children. He had open heart surgery last Thursday to replace a failing valve. The days following were a roller coaster of hope and worry. We had several scares followed by improvements. When the physicians removed the heart pump yesterday morning, though, his liver and kidneys shut down and he took a turn for the worse.
The irony is that the operation is what killed him. Of course, all of the other heart operations he had since his first heart attack at age 39 kept him alive this long. Besides his genetics that gave him terrible cholesterol & heart problems, my grandpa was super healthy all his life. He never drank or smoked. He exercised daily with my grandma. He still fit into his World War II uniform 50+ years later. As with all of his operations, he knew there was a risk, but he felt good about going ahead with it.
I am sad that he is gone, of course, but not the sad of regret and grief. He lived a long, happy life. I hadn't seen my grandparents for several years until we took a trip back to Utah this summer. My grandpa Clyde was a civil engineering professor at Utah State University. They stayed in the same town and house after he retired. We spent a lovely day with them, walking around Third Dam in Logan Canyon, picking apricots in their backyard, and making Wienerschnitzel. My grandma Clyde is from Germany/Austria and she insisted on showing Zari how to prepare the meal from start to finish. I'm glad that Zari and Dio were able to meet their great-grandparents.
When my mom called last night with the news, she said that his death was a very sweet, happy event. She found the Intensive Care Unit intimidating at first. But she soon grew to see the wires and tubes as lifelines of love. She and her family were able to say their goodbyes as his condition worsened. He left this world encircled by those he cared most about.
That's not a bad way to go.