My grandpa, stable enough to stay in the local nursing home, will be returning to his house this week. He has a PEG tube and will never eat or drink again but the very fact that there's an "again" is kind of amazing, and he'll get to sleep in his own house until the next pneumonia or whatever else comes for him. There will be home health care, a blessing for my grandma, and the further blessing of familiar surroundings. When the mind and body totter on last legs it's nice to know that the sheets are where they've been for forty years, the radio room is just as you left it, the TV remote is the one you know how to work. The nursing home wasn't all bad, though; when you live in the same place for eighty-odd years you're bound to know your hallmates -- one of my grandma's students from her one-room schoolhouse teaching days lives there -- and if you ever saw that godawful comic I made, its protagonist is alive, kicking with one leg, and ensconced in the same nursing home.
So it was Old Home Week at the Old Home for a few weeks. Those bear-men, like my grandpa and my dad, can turn on the charm once forced out of their caves, and it starts to make sense how they convinced those otherwise sensible women to marry them long ago.
One new thing: Grandpa had a visitor in the hospital, during a bout of ICU psychosis. The visitor was a floating being of love and light and goodness and mercy, and he brought peace with him.
His name was Jeff.
And now Grandpa, mostly lucid most of the the time, says with beatific certainty that God has nothing to do with religion.
Maybe the miracle is that the brain in extremis contorts reality into one final rationalization to make it all better at the end. Maybe that's miracle enough. Maybe that is in itself the thumbprint of the divine: that ultimate suffering might be buffered somehow.
Or maybe Grandpa met God, and his name was Jeff and he was a pretty good guy.
Visiting hours are short, short.