Monday, February 12, 2007
Clinging On To The Edge Of Life
We went to Bruges last weekend, to visit the in-laws and load up my wife’s old desk that she wants to use for her new office. My mother-in-law and her scandalously younger boy-friend had invited us to participate in a quiz organised by the local district committee. The two of them and myself managed not to get utterly defeated by the other 19 teams, while Mrs. B. slept almost through the entire thing as she was exhausted from working all week and being pregnant all the time.
On Sunday we visited Mrs. B’s grandmother, who has suffered a stroke a couple of weeks ago. She’s been in hospital ever since, in the geriatric department. She’s in her mid eighties, and although she was getting less lucid lately she managed rather well, although with full-time assistance from her daughters. But after that stroke she’s half paralyzed and unable to speak or to express herself in any other meaningful way. It was sad to see her like this, although Mrs. B. kept up a brave and smiling face and entertained her grandmother until we had to leave. I, on the other hand, didn’t manage much of a conversation. But then again, grandmother seems always very amused by my face, ever since we met for the first time. So she observed me a lot while I pretended to observe the television or a couple of women’s magazines.
My own grandfather is in pretty much the same state as Mrs. B’s grandmother. He’s been moving in and out of hospitals for the last couple of years with an ever increasing rate. A couple of weeks ago he was admitted after a cardiac arrest, and the doctors told my mother and my uncles and aunts to say goodbye. But the old man clung to life with surprising tenacity. His body, that is, because his mind is tugging to leave. One of the few things he still reacts to is my sister’s name. Somehow he remembers that she recently gave birth to a girl, his first grandchild. My mother suspects that he wants to see little Hebe before he dies. Unfortunately, Hebe is not strong enough yet to risk her bringing into a hospital.