Last weekend, my boyfriend, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and dog (hi clip!) took a road trip to Rochester, NY to celebrate my grandfather's 100th birthday. Yes, 100th birthday.
For reasons that aren't necessary to discuss, I hadn't seen him in close to 5 years. To me, that made me feel like a failure, having just recently losing my father and becoming all too familiar with the feelings of guilt and regret. He's been a short, 6 hour drive away and I haven't made the trip—why? There's no excuse. I grew up with my grandparents less than a 5 minute walk from my home for the majority of my childhood. I had dinner with my them every Sunday night. I learned how to swim in the "deep end" in their backyard pool. They were there for me.
As we knew from my grandfather's caretaker, his short-term memory was fading, and he had to be reminded of things on a daily basis. We weren't sure what to expect, and I think we feared the worst. We knew he didn't know of my father's cancer diagnosis at all—and we weren't sure whether he would ask about him or not—as he was the one who made the plans for this particular trip. It was agreed upon that we wouldn't tell him what happened, as to avoid any unnecessary anguish for what would no doubt be a short period of time.
Walking into his small, one bedroom apartment inside a larger retirement home, I was overtaken by childhood memories. From the welcome mat that read "Catalino Country Club," to the outdated armoire, I was transported back to his home right down the street from my childhood home. I was instantly comforted.
It turned out he recognized us immediately. I doubt he could've named us, but he knew we were grandchildren. He kept repeating himself, but was overwhelmed and thankful for us visiting him. He made us laugh, a lot, just like he used to. He never asked about my father, and we never had to lie to him.