I’m not precisely certain when Popaw began using the phrase, ”Oh, well” but it was definitely within the last few years of his life. Fortunately, Popaw retained his mental faculties, with the exception of being able to recall what he had eaten. When asked he would often respond, ”I can’t recall but I know it was good because I cleaned my plate.”
But this phrase, ”Oh, well” had multiple meanings for him. He used it when he couldn’t conjure up a response. He often used it when he would hear something he didn’t necessarily like hearing. But most often used to mean, ” It’s okay. I am satisfied.” In other words, Popaw simply took the cards he was dealt and played them out. He knew where he was going and was content until the end.
Of all the times I heard him use the phrase, these two times will stand out above the rest.
That was a hard day for me and my Mom. The call came around 9:30 am and by the time I got to The Bridge, they had him sitting in his lift chair. At first game, he looked calm. He recognized me but his speech was muffled and difficult to understand. After a few short minutes, he began fidgeting in the chair and aggressively attempting to get up. But there was a problem, he couldn’t walk. The stroke had affected his ability to walk and he couldn’t comprehend.
It took hours of sitting by his chair with my arm held up to gently nudge him back down. Over and over again, Mom and I would tell him, ”You’ve had a stroke. You can’t get up. Your legs don’t work anymore.”
Finally, the meds arrived, and once they got into his system, he was able to calm down. Once calm, his speech was clearing and his mind was less foggy. His irrational behavior had subsided. Although there were times he would want to get up and go to the bathroom. Again I would firmly explain that he had a stroke and couldn’t walk. Finally, we reached a conjuncture with him and he understood precisely what I was saying. He looked at me with a smile so soft and tender, I could’ve cried, and said, ”Oh, well.”
The following morning I stopped in briefly to check on him. Mom had gone home after a night of restless sleeping there with him. A sitter was with him until 2:00. As soon as I walked in the door, a smile spread across his face from ear to ear and he lit up at the sight of me. He beamed. ”Hey Sweetheart, it’s so good to see you.”
I leaned over, kissed him on the cheek and said, ” It’s so good to lay eyes on you this morning.”
We chatted for a few minutes then I kissed him goodbye, assuring him I would see him later in the day. Little did I know that would be our final conversation.
The sitter, as I was leaving, said, ”You must be someone really special because I’ve never seen anyone’s eyes light up the way his just did for you.”
”Not really, I’m just his granddaughter. He’s that way with all of his family. ”
Upon my return, things had gotten progressively worse and they were having to medicate him more often. I knew deep in my heart where things were heading.
The next morning there was a horrible rain and wind storm. Terry and I had to wait until 11:00 am before we could leave for Hendersonville. Popaw wasn’t any better and I knew something had to be done. (It’s a story for another time)
Finally, by 5:15, I received a call from Hospice informing me they would be coming to pick Popaw up by 6:00 and transport him to the Elizabeth House. I was alone with him when the news came to me and he was restless.
I put my hand over his heart and said, ”Popaw, the ambulance is coming to get you soon and they will be taking you to the Elizabeth House. We are taking you there so you can be made comfortable.”
He turned his eyes toward mine and said, ”Oh, well.”
I wanted to laugh and cry all at once. I knew what that ”Oh, well” meant. It is well with my soul.
”Popaw, I love you.”
”I love you back.”
Those would be the last words he would say to me!
Popaw, thank you for teaching me that life isn’t about the things, it’s about being content in all circumstances knowing that God is in complete control.