“Good night, Grandpa. Merry Christmas.” These were the last words I said to him. My grandpa Francis died on January 21, 2009, of lung cancer – this was the result of fifty years of steady smoking.
The day I heard he passed was the start of final exams. I had English, Advanced Algebra and Biology that day. I toughed it out and went to school. The first exam (English) consisted of a few short stories and questions. The first story happened to be about a girl whose grandpa had just died. Unwilling to let it get the best of me, I made it through the exam and the day. I even earned an A.
That wasn’t the hardest part, however. For five years, I watched my grandpa lay in bed, as he was shrinking and growing weaker. He was a prisoner in his bed. He couldn’t stand, walk, or eat on his own.
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Watching someone so helpless was overwhelming and eye-opening. Sadly, there was nothing I could do but keep him company. Towards the end of his life, nurses came daily to his house to help my grandma take care of him. She was taught how to insert a feeding tube; he couldn’t eat or swallow anymore. She was taught how to hook the tubes up to the oxygen tanks; he couldn’t breathe anymore. She had to learn how to communicate with him; he couldn’t remember anymore.
Seeing how much comfort nurses brought and how helpful they were inspired me to want to be a nurse. Sacrificing holidays, birthdays, and free days for people who need help is the best gift. As a nurse, there are going to be days when I’m struggling, but just like I did on the English exam, I will push through and not let it get the best of me.