Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grandpa Jim

Grandpa Jim and Grandma T. (picture taken shamelessly from Facebook)

"Rudolph and his wife were sitting in their home in communist Russia one evening, you see. Rudolph, a weather man, looked out the window at a clear blue sky and said to his wife, "It's going to rain". She looked out the window and scoffed, "What are you talking about, there's not a cloud in the sky". He went back to his reading and she went back to her knitting. Before long a bright flash and the loud boom of thunder startled her. She looked up from her knitting as the rain began to pour. Shocked, she turned and looked at her husband who sat with his nose still in his book. He said..."

We waited. The smile left Grandpa Jim's face and you could tell he was struggling, searching to find the punch line. We agonized with him, hoping and silently praying the words would come to him. It's not that we didn't know what came next, he had told us this joke every Christmas season for years. But this year was different. The Jim we had known and loved had been slipping away due to the effects of Alzheimer's. We had spent the afternoon together. We ate at the same Marie Calendars we always ate at when we got together in Phoenix between Christmas and New Years. Went to the same park afterward. Jim had ordered the ribs but ate only one. Pie was always ordered regardless of how full we were. It gave us more time together and Jim especially doted on his sweet tooth. But today, Jim was disoriented in the restaurant. He would quietly lean towards Grandma and ask where we were and why we were here. He was unusually quiet as we ate. At the park afterward he sat and watched the whirl of our children and his new great granddaughter play around him. Then all too soon, it was time to go. They had a good two hour drive and wanted to get back before dark. As we walked towards our cars there was a feeling of sadness in my heart. It was more than just missing them. The changes in Jim were much more pronounced this year, it was clear he was slowly slipping away. Then Jim announced that he had a joke! We stopped walking to allow him to concentrate more fully. I remember Amy had been walking next to him... I think their arms were linked. As I looked back she smiled brightly. We all gathered around to listen... and then to wait. The punch line went through my mind and I summoned all of my telepathic powers to send it to him. As I looked at the faces of the others it seemed they were doing the same thing. 
Then Jim's face brightened, 

"He said, "Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear!"."

I don't remember exactly our outward reaction. I know we laughed and hugged him and told him how much we loved his jokes. Really how much we loved him. Inside I was cheering and jumping up and down. This was huge. Grandma smiled and as we turned to continue on to the cars she said quietly to me,
"I'm so glad he remembered it".
"Me too."

That was 2008

Jim passed from this life last night around 8:50pm Arizona time.
It has been a long and hard down hill slide.
Jim is at peace now and our hearts and prayers go out to Grandma T., 
Jim's children and to all those he left behind who have been touched by his goodness.
We look forward to a glorious meeting someday... 

and a lot more jokes. 

PS His sister, with whom he was always close in this life,
 passed away a few hours before he did, also of Alzheimer's.

5 comments:

MZ said...

Thanks for the post--it's a classic!

Amy said...

This is such a perfect post for Grandpa. I can't help but feel happy for him right now. He is in a much better place. My heart hurts for Grandma and we are praying for her!

Grandma T. said...

Karen, I am so touched by this post. You remember the day perfectly, and yes, we were all sending him the punch line telepathically. And yes, he remembered. Our annual holiday days together at Marie Callenders and the park were so very special.
Thanks so much.
Lots of love and hugs, Phyllis

Karen Zimbelman said...

very sweet, KBZ! XO

Tracy said...

A lovely and tenderhearted tribute. Keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers. With hugs, from Georgia.