Caregiving Story

Allen Jefferson Price, My Grandpa

Age:76
Location:DeSoto, TX
Cared for by:Jessica Lazek
Years of Care:4

 

When I was a child, my grandmother was diagnosed with brain cancer. Since I was so young, I was not fully aware of the seriousness of the situation or her illness. All I knew was my mommy needed help taking care of Nanaw. So I helped her cook, and clean, and I sat and talked with my grandmother for hours after school. After a few months, she became delusional, could not remember events, or people, or me. So it was decided that I should not spend any more nights on my Nanaw's bedside, listening to her stories. She passed in 1994, when I was 6 years old.

Following her funeral, my mother was so heartbroken that we moved out of Texas. She said she couldn't take the daily reminders that her best friend was no longer with her. It was a hard time for everyone, because not only did we lose the rock of our family, we also unwittingly tore ourselves out of the comfort of a familiar environment, to try to ease the pain of the loss.

Four years after we moved away, my family and I received news that my grandfather had now fallen ill as well. I was still so young, I didn't understand fully, but I did know that I lost Nanaw, and so I was terrified of losing Peepaw the same way. My mom, dad, brother, and I moved in with my grandfather, Allen, so we could be there whenever he needed anything.

In the beginning, it was as if nothing was really wrong, he was the same goofy old man. He taught me how to play Dominoes, cooked me breakfast, and took me to school each morning. It was a very happy time in both our lives, I believe. But then I started to notice a change in him. His energy slowly decreased, his mind gently became a little less sharp. One day, I beat him at Dominoes for the first time in my life. I was so excited, I jumped up and down, and we celebrated with ice cream. I will remember that day for the rest of my life, not because of my victory over Peep, but for his dramatic change afterwards.

I remember his last year more vividly than many in my life. He went from making us sausage and biscuits in the morning, to not remembering that we had school. He went from walking around the garden and picking fresh greens for dinner, to needing help to get to the restroom in time.

This man, who had a second grade education, who owned and operated his own business for 40 years, who owned a beautiful two story brick house, who provided a wonderful life for his family, withered away in front of my childish eyes. I am so thankful to have had him in my life for as long as I did. He taught me things about people that only those with a lifetime of experience can teach you. He loved everyone without a second thought. He was always willing to help anyone who needed it, even if it was ill advised by his children. He had a heart as big as Texas itself.

One night, that big heart gave out. He passed quietly in his sleep, no pain, no suffering, and with his dignity still in tact. He had spent the last of his days in the loving company of his family, and in his own home.

The week after his funeral, my niece was born. It was a sad and joyous occasion. For the birth of a child into the world has always been and will always be a wondrous thing, but when it so quickly follows such a deep loss as the death of one so dearly loved, one can't help but feel a connection. My grandfather had a compassionate soul, one such as no one I have ever met since. That little baby girl, brought into this world with such meaning in the heart of my family, has a sweet, kind soul. She is compassionate, and loving, and dear to all of us. I don't know about the rest of my family, but in my deepest heart, I know without a doubt, that this goofy old man sat back in the beyond, and kissed her forehead the night of her birth, and gave us back some of what he took with him, in her.

I am truly blessed and forever changed by my grandfather, Allen Jefferson Price, we called him A.J. His death, as much as his life, has given me an appreciation for those in disguise. He will always be remembered and always be missed. My son's name is Allen Joseph Steffan Lazek. We call him A.J...

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