Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Grandfather

My Papa turns 91 in one month. Everyone describes their grandfather as "the oak". When I was in junior high I wrote a short story about him called "Bringing down the oak", which I think I lifted from a Wall Flowers title.
He is not the most loving or the most important or the most wise member of the family. He is not the pillar or the tent pole. Nothing will collapse with him. But he is the oldest. He is the link to history. I feel that link strongly. He was born in 1918, not one month after WWI ended. He was raised by his grandparents. He was told stores about his great-grandfather Daniel Boone Stover, who was captured by the Confederates, and who escaped. It was a great story that he was told and made to live through by the telling of the story. And he told the story to me and made me live it also.
Papa is not dying. But he is loosing himself. My stepmother calls it phase I dementia. In this state, you still recognize your relatives. You still are aware of what is going on. You are aware that you are looseing your mind. You have a breif window to come to terms with that. Phase II is not so nice. Legally, it is also the point beyond which a relative can do anything to acquire legal status over finances, bank accounts, wills, etc.--if that stuff has not already been taken care of.
I talked with him recently. He said he has been having bad dreams. I kept talking about the fact that he was bothered by bad creams. I asked him what happened in these dreams. He said that there are people who he does not know, and he is traveling places he does not want to go. That's all the detail I got out of him. This from the man who doesn't leave his house to visit relatives on Christmas, who has never flown in an airplane. If I believed in the spirit world I might have gotten chills as he described this to me.
The brain unravels. Entropy dictates that is must. Thought, self, memory, imagination, soul--it cannot last forever in its solid, recognizable state anymore than than any form of energy can. I concede God may exist, but an afterlife. Entropy seems to forbid it.

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