The girl was told he was there but she didn’t know why. It was claimed he had dementia but she had not seen this. She was young so maybe she just didn’t understand. She went to see him there. He was so happy to see her. The girl visited him three days a week for an entire year. She didn’t know what she missed about this dementia diagnosis but she still did not see it. He was quiet that was true. He was very old that was true. But he remembered the girl always. She used to take him outside in his wheelchair for walks. They would sit outside and listen to the birds. He didn’t talk very much. He smiled all the time. He was always smiling.
The girl thought how sore his must be sitting, not moving, every day. She started bringing lotion to massage his shoulders. One day she massaged his arms. One day she massaged his feet. She had to be very careful because his skin was fragile. The girl didn’t know how to massage but he would try to rub spots that she knew were hurting. She gave him massages once a week during her visits. His muscles were so knotted from disuse. She knew he was starting to decline already there. He didn’t speak many words to the girl. She spoke to him. She told him about her life and he laughed. She told him about the special moments and he grinned. He always hugged her. He always told her he loved her. He was a very gentle and kind man.
One day the girl went to see him and he had been moved. They said he could not be in an assisted living facility any longer so he was to go to a nursing home. The girl had heard this nursing home was the best. She was wrong. She had never been to a nursing home before so she had no idea what she was about to see.
The girl walked in to the new place. He would be, there, now. The front entrance looked pleasant enough. There was a sunny area in the middle. But… the doors were locked. They were prisoners there. They could not leave. The girl saw many women go to the doors where she had come in. They pushed the bar on the door over and over again and screamed, “I want to leave!” No one listened to the women. The women could go into the middle of the facility in the sunny area. But it was quite honestly just a sunroof, on a prison. The girl hated this place already. She asked the receptionist where he was and was directed to the right and down a hall. To the right was “long term care.” To the left was “short term care.” The girl went left first. She saw all of the patients, the people, in the hallways, talking, being instructed on physical therapy. She walked to the end of the hall and turned back around. As she walked back up the left hall it seemed pleasant enough for a prison. It seemed their sentences were lighter, they may be released soon. She made it back to the entrance and turned right.
The smell of the right was heavy, thick, and pungent. It smelled of a toilet that had not been flushed in weeks, times 10. She walked down the hall and heard patients, people, yelling, “help,” but no one answered them. She glanced in the rooms and most of them looked, dazed, gazed, staring out of the windows. No one was in the hall.
She found him in his room. He was naked in his wheelchair. He was shivering. His face was stricken with the indignity of it all. The girl ran to the nurses station yelling. Who left him this way? What was going on? Why was he in there naked? Someone better get in that room and take care of him NOW!!
The reaction was minimal. No one reacted alarmingly by the yelling of the girl. They stood, went into her room, informed the girl that he had been bathed and the nurse had become sidetracked and simply forgotten him. He had been left, naked, and forgotten. The girl was…mortified. She knew that she would need to come to see him now as frequently as possible. She would need to visit during the morning, the afternoon, and even in the middle of the night. She got the codes to the locked doors so she could access them 24/7. It was the girl’s job to make sure he was protected. She became known. Because she was known, the man was never left unattended again. In fact, he was cared for better than many of the others there. The girl noticed that those who got no visitors, sat in their own urine. Those who had no family, sat with their food tray just out of reach. The girl noticed everything. She became a fixture of the nursing home. She loved the man very much. He loved her.
She was again informed that he would be moved. He needed to be moved closer to his family. The family wanted to be able to visit more often. They rarely visited now. How much more would they visit the man? It would not be every day like the girl did. It would not be even once a week.
Before he was moved, the man had a heart attack. The girl rushed to his side in the hospital. She hoped, after everything he had been through, after his recent decline, that his body would gently just let go. But they put a pacemaker in him instead. He couldn’t let go. They wanted to have him alive. They couldn’t let him go. He was ready to go. He wasn’t allowed to let go. The girl’s heart was broken because the man’s heart was not allowed to stop. It was like another prison. He was not allowed freedom to heaven. No! That was not up to him or to God. That was up to the family who sentenced him to more life, suffering, in a prison far from the girl. She leaned over right next to his face and whispered, “I love you granddaddy,” and she never saw him again.
He was moved away. She doesn’t know how often he was visited in his final days. Was he down the right hall of the new place or the left? She would never know. He passed away. His heart broke free of the prison sentence. He was finally free. She had seen his bible. He had read it no less than a million times in his lifetime. Every line in the bible was underlined, highlighted, notes in the margin. His life was with God and now he could be with Him just like he wanted. He was free.
The girl was notified that the man had left her 100,000 dollars. NO!!!! This could not be so!!! He could not have had that money! If he had had that money then he should have had private care. He should have used that money to live comfortably in his final days in dignity, something that the nursing home stole. He should have used that money to pay anyone, anyone at all, to care for him, any place, any place other than the prison! He had left the girl 100,000 and he had died in a prison. He left his son 300,000 dollars. He left the girl’s brother 100,000 dollars. He even left his son’s ex wife money because she was the mother of his son’s children. The man had over half a million dollars. He didn’t want the money for himself. He didn’t use the money for his own benefit. He hid the money away so that after he was gone he could leave something for the girl and the others. He thought the money should go to those he loved. He lived in a single trailer his entire life, saving money to give to those he loved. Did those people know he had this money? If the girl knew she would have demanded it be used to care for him. Some felt guilt over the money because they had not spent the time with him they felt they should have. The girl felt no guilt. She had spent every moment she could giving unconditional love. The girl felt broken hearted. Disillusioned with everyone. With everything. With the treatment of those in the prison. With the secret of the money. Secrets. Everywhere secrets. Nowhere was there humanity.
The girl accepted the money. She took some of each check she received and found individuals that needed help financially, but she knew would never ask. She sent anonymous cash to those who needed it most. One family, one woman, one friend, one receptionist, one homeless, one abused. The girl knew, that’s what her granddaddy would have wanted.
She didn’t want the money though. She just wanted one more moment with the man who she knew truly loved her, and always greeted her with a smile. Two people, the girl, and the man, knew that love was priceless. If only everyone loved like the girl and the man, her granddaddy. If only.