My paternal grandfather was confined in the hospital one Saturday morning. At that time, I thought it wasn’t anything too serious since the reason for his confinement was due to a fever that wouldn’t go down the night before. Later on, I realized that fever will always be a different case when it happens to older people.
Let me put this out here. Despite living under the same roof, I don’t see my grandparents often. School and work came into the picture but at the same time, my reason not to see them was more of a deliberate one. It started when some years ago, during my grandfather’s failing memory, he started ignoring my sister and me. He was mysteriously cold, a complete opposite from his jolly self who occasionally exclaimed to greet us every time we were at the kitchen. I found out that, due to an internal conflict at home, he was fed stories based on a lie that made us grandkids look like that we stopped caring for him—a claim that none of us could fathom. It was a lie that stemmed out of thin air, that only the vulnerable in terms of memory would ever believe it. Unfortunately, my grandfather was in that category. It hurt me too much to even go to eat meals where we normally did, because I couldn’t face him the same way. Even if I knew it wasn’t his fault that his memory was like that, it was still difficult for me to pretend that nothing happened.
That was the first time I felt that I lost a part of home.
Losing home in your own house is undoubtedly a painful feeling. I felt free to walk around the rest of the house, and I was happy enough to have a room of my own, but knowing a the place you go home to had some parts of it that made you feel unwelcome ate me from inside. It was honestly all in my head the idea of living so close to a loved one, but feel apart, was difficult to face whenever I walked in and out of home, especially when it felt like a thing of the past. I had my meals on my study desk or in the bedroom instead of in the dining table—a fun thing come to think of it, a picnic of some sort, but too many times I’ve missed the kitchen. It wasn’t just the place I missed, but the memory of having meals as a family.
Pretty soon I forced myself to get used to the fact that I wouldn’t ever be close to my grandfather again, but sometimes in the quiet hours of the night, I would find myself wondering why all of it came to this. Even if I decided to distance myself from heartache, I would long for things to go back to the way they used to be, when my grandfather was still alright and there wasn’t anything in the world that would make me think us distant.
Later on, when he forgot about the reason on why he was so cold to us before, he started looking for us. Call it an opportunity for me, but I refused to make myself present when he was around. I was afraid he would forget again.
But during the times I would catch myself seeing him alone in the living room, resting on one of the sofas, he’d talk to me with a welcoming face. In between his memory lapses, he’d ask me where I’ve been, how I’ve been, and what I’ve been up to.
He’d still look for me, and my sister.
The Saturday he was confined, I decided to go and watch over him while we waited for a room. The E.R. was filled that day, and the nurses were too busy. The diagnosis for him was that he had beginning stages of pneumonia, but he looked nothing close to sick. He kept talking, and he ate so much food. At least in the hospital, he could be monitored for sure. All throughout my stay, my grandfather and I just talked about anything and everything, especially the things we missed out on. All we did was talk, and willingly I listened and answered his questions, even if we went through the same topic more than twice.
When the rest of the family came and when he was finally admitted to an actual hospital room, I found myself falling asleep by the window sill. It was nine in the evening. For almost 12 hours, we waited for that room. When it was time for me to go, I took his hand for a forehead kiss, and said I’d be back again the next day.
Upon stepping on the pebble wash of our house, I looked towards the window of his room upstairs. I entered the house, and I felt I was home again.