The first of three Robert William McCorkindales (the second being my father and the third being my brother) is currently residing in the Intensive Car Unit at North Arkansas Regional Medical Center following hip surgery, a subsequent embolism, and recent kidney problems. He is not expected to last very long. From what I saw he is in a great deal of pain and is beyond ready to leave. He was only semi-coherent when I saw him this afternoon; the only words I made out from him were “Oh God.”
One of the things I think I dislike most about hospitals is the inevitable feeling of helplessness that arises from watching a loved one suffer. Even worse is watching grandparents suffer, with the knowledge that death is a far more likely outcome than a return to health. All you can do is stand there, try to make conversation with your relatives, and maybe hold hands with your grandfather, who probably isn’t aware of your presence.
For dinner last night I went to my maternal grandmother’s house. She’s dying of lung cancer at 92, and has defied all expectations by getting up every day and not dying. She still has her wits about her and, at least in my opinion, gets better every time I see her. She has a sterling resilience, a strength she probably developed by taking care of her husband for about 30 years following his debilitating stroke.
Part of me envies my grandparents. They were here for most of the 20th century, the single greatest span of human advancement our species has ever witnessed. We went from learning to fly in 1903 to landing on the moon in 1969. From radio to TV to Internet. And my grandfather has made sure to leave behind plenty of McCorkindales (this is him seated at center, amid 15 of his progeny). He has 6 kids and 12 grandkids. He has outlived 3 wives, the first of which died in 1968.
Sadly, all we can do is wait. Prayers and good vibes appreciated. His coordinates are 36.23° North, 93.10° West.