It sure has been awhile since I last posted on my blog. Far too long. The emotions of writing about my brother-in-law and his battle against Cancer is just too much, I guess. Sadly, I return to WordPress and my blog to write about another great person who is about to end his earthly journey…my Grandpa”Cookie” Emmett Carlen.
As I type, my grandfather lies in a bed in an Alzheimer’s home in Southern California. My mom and aunt spending every last day with him. Mom was encouraged to come last Friday, as the end was near. Grandpa is the last remaining grandparent I have, and he, too, will soon be gone. My family is in constant prayer that the Good Lord will take him soon, as his quality of life has diminished and is beyond repair. This, though, began many years ago as Alzheimer’s began to set in.
G’pa was, and is, a great man. When my grandma, the love of his life, passed away back in 2004 after her own bout with Cancer, the signs of Alzheimer’s were already showing. I think my grandma knew it when she departed this world into the next… she prepared as much as she could for him (including birthday cards for all of us throughout the year). Of course, she always took care of him, and the two were quite the duo. You could never leave their house without a smile on your face–their playful arguments. I will never forget them. I do remember as a child being astonished one day as I stood in the living room of their Mills, WY home, hearing my grandpa say “Come here, shit head!” I was so thankful when it wasn’t my grandma that followed him out of the kitchen, but their poodle, GiGi. For some reason, that and the candy jar, usually full of either root beer suckable candy or Atomic Fireballs that was strategically (and secretly) placed by “Grandpa’s Chair” (Grandpa’s Chair was the chair no one could sit in for very long, because when he returned, anyone in it was booted!) Another very fond memory is grandpa sitting there in that very chair, sucking on his candy, using his electric shaver, and watching the TV…either golf or QVN (yes, grandma and grandpa bought quite a bit of stuff off of QVN!).
My grandfather worked for as much of his working life as I can remember at the Casper Texaco Refinery. A hard worker and a very handy man, he wasn’t afraid of fixing anything and electrical stuff was his specialty. Grandpa and Grandma both were the odd-balls of the family–basically the only liberals in my family–and boy would they argue their side. Arguing (and farting) was their game — each blaming it on the other or the dog, but we all knew they were equally guilty.
Another vivid memory I have of my grandpa is his “hatred” of Christmas (not the holiday itself, but the commercialization of such). This was quite the contrary to my grandmother who absolutely loved it and all of the decorating that comes with it. I am pretty sure that Grandpa really did love Christmas, he just couldn’t admit it.
Dancing… my grandpa LOVES to dance. So did grandma. And whistling… you could always hear grandpa whistling.
Then evil came and began to take his mind. My family has, in recent years, experienced a lot of tragedy when it comes to evil diseases. As if Cancer weren’t enough, I can tell you Alzheimer’s in some way is worse, if that’s possible. At minimum, equally as bad, and definitely hard on the loved ones. C&A are two diseases that I pray will be eliminated in my lifetime or my children’s.
The last time I saw my grandpa was a almost two years ago when most of my family went to California for a vacation and to spend some time with him for his birthday. He looked much better then, physically, at least compared to the pictures I have seen of him lately. My mom sent me one today which just brought tears to my eyes. It’s undoubtedly time for Grandpa to go to the better place, and to spend eternity with his Maker and the love of his life, Grandma Cookie. I have no doubt they will be swing dancing soon, and I hope and pray it will be soon as the suffering needs to end.
Sending lots of love to my mom and aunt Lynda who are with him now, as well as to my Uncle Randy who could not make the journey from Casper. They are the three wonderful children of Emmett and Virgina Carlen, the crazy Democrats who are responsible for me, my sisters, my cousins and all of our kids. Grandpa, you did well. We love you, and we wish you a peaceful journey Home.