Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chris G. Johnson Memory, Dec. 9th, 1988 Regarding Clifford William Johnson

When I was thirteen years old, it was evident my Grandpa Johnson was approaching his last days. He’d fallen and broken his hip and after the surgery his health was failing quickly. He had Alzheimer’s which got steadily worse until he didn’t even know who any of us were anymore.

I was never really close with my Grandpa Johnson, but I loved him very much. He was larger than life to me and a bit of a man of mystery.

One night Dad and I visited Grandma and Grandpa. The TV was on and I sat on the old green chair and footstool just across from Grandpa. He was sitting in his hospital gown, in his rocking chair, lost in his own little world.

Because of his surgeries and problems they brought a hospital bed on wheels to the house and put it in the living room next to the kitchen. They had him sleep on that instead of in the bedroom where he normally slept.

Dad talked to Grandma as he helped her with things around the house and occasionally he spoke to Grandpa, but Grandpa looked scared like he didn’t know what was going on or who these people were.

Time came for him to go to bed, so they helped him up and walked him over to the bed. It was very hard for him to walk even with help. He shuffled his feet little by little as he went. When they lifted him into bed and got him situated they put up the bar on the side so he wouldn’t roll out of bed in the night and hurt himself.

Dad said it was time for us to go, so I stood up to leave. I remember Dad say, “Goodnight, Dad”, and Grandpa didn’t respond.

As we walked out the door I got a funny feeling that I should look back because this would be the last time I’d see Grandpa.

When I looked back my Grandpa lifted his head and looked at me. As he looked at me it seemed for a moment that he was totally aware of everything again and knew who I was. He smiled at me and gave me the OK symbol with his hand. I smiled back and turned and left.

As we drove home I thought for a split second how strange that moment with Grandpa was, but I pretty much just blew the whole thing off.

The next evening Dad took me into Jodie’s room and told me Grandpa had passed away in his sleep that night after we had left.

The experience I’d had with him rushed into my mind. Instead of being devastated that Grandpa had just died, I was very happy and I felt warm inside. I knew that our moment of connection was him telling me that everything was going to be just fine.

This experience is the fondest memory I have of my Grandpa Johnson.

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