Should I feel guilty? (sorry this is long)

I know that I may come across as being self-absorbed but I don't mean for it to come out that way. I'm just frustrated.

I am 29 and in grad school working towards a MS degree. On Halloween of 2010, I watched my best friend, Princess (a 15 year old seal point siamese cat), die. It was terrible. I watched her body shut down, knowing there was nothing that I could do to save her. I couldn't even get her to the vet fast enough. In the end, Princess couldn't even stand up or walk without my help. Princess also went blind. All I could do was sit there and hold her. I kept telling her that I loved her, that she was my best friend, and that I was proud to have been her cat mom. It just about killed me to watch her take her last breath. If I was one that drinker, I would've drunk myself to death. People will probably make stupid comments about how animals can't be your best friend. But she was my best friend and my baby. I still haven't fully grieved over her death. But that is only part of why I'm writing this.

I live near my maternal grandfather and we are pretty close. For the last year or two he had been taking care of his older sister. She is 94/95 and my grandfather will be 88 this year. I kept telling him to call someone whenever she fell. He didn't need to be picking her up every time because he'd end up hurting himself. Did he listen? No. Did he end up getting hurt? Yes. He ended up having to have emergency back surgery. He thinks that he should've been able to walk again, immediately after the surgery. I've told him (as well as my parents) that it is going to take time. He just has to go through the rehab before he can go home. Even after he gets through with the rehab, my parents have told him that he can come to their house (~13 hour drive from here) and stay for awhile (a few months, whatever he needs). So, he could get more attention from my parents than what he could get from me, since I am in grad school and I am also working (well, looking for some kind of part-time work while in school). I know he feels half-way decent because he complains about the food. He has always had a healthy appetite. I am the only family that he has close by that can do anything for him. I check on his house, I get his mail, I make sure that his bills get paid (basically, he writes and signs the check and I mail it), etc. I take little ice cream cups to him because I know that he loves ice cream. I've offered to bring him food. Anything from peanut butter sandwiches to soup to hamburgers and he always tells me no, yet he still complains about the food.

Then my paternal grandfather (94) dies. He had alzheimers (spelling?) and pneumonia. The alzheimers was so bad that he couldn't even recognize his own sons, much less grandkids. Of course, I hadn't seen him in years, because he was in and out of the hospital. He was also several hundred miles away.

I'm not the most sympathetic person in the world. I don't wear my heart on my sleeve and I don't have patience for people when they feel sorry for themselves. Don't get me wrong, I love my grandaddy but I just can't stand it that he is trying to get people to feel sorry for him. I know that he is used to being independent and being on the go constantly. He may be in his late 80s but he doesn't look like it. I was away for about a week and half to go to the funeral of my other grandfather and to spend time with my parents and brother for Christmas. He would've been with us but he was in the hospital (got transferred to a nursing center for the rehab). I called everyday and talked for a bit. His sister ended up getting transferred to the residential part of where he is at, so he does get to see her, even if it isn't everyday. I got back this past Thursday, late at night. Classes don't start till January 12th.

Should I give up the rest of my Christmas break, just to sit there and listen to him complain about how he can't do anything (even though he knows he's gotten better and that it's going to take time)? Doesn't he realize that when he complains that it makes me not want to visit, even though I want to see him? Is it too much to ask for a little bit of time to do something that I want to do (i.e., go for a hike at a state park or national forest)? Can't I have a some time to myself to grieve over my best friend?

This past semester was rough enough academically and after losing my best friend I could use a break. Where I didn't have to worry about anything. I'd like to do something fun before going back to school. Yes, I got to go to my parents house for Christmas. And some of you may say that was enough but honestly, I went from my parents house to coming back here to be a caretaker. I am not in the health care field. I am in school to be a wildlife biologist. It's not like he doesn't get other visitors. He's got friends that visit, which include people from his church. I go to a different church (we are both Protestant but belong to different denominations - Baptist (him), Methodist (Me)). My uncle, his son, lives and Florida and calls him a couple of times a week. My parents call him a couple of times a week as well. So, it's not like people don't care. Again, I do care about my grandaddy, but I just don't have the patience to put up with the self pity. I go and visit and then when he starts to be all upset, I look at my watch and tell him that I need to get going (go fix supper or something else). I do tell my grandaddy that I love him and that I will see him again.

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  • You want permission to have a break...you can do whatever you'd like. You also have to take care of you in this process. It's a lot to have any family member in a home. You do need to grieve the loss of your best friend. Because you don't get over a pet that's been with you for over 15 years over night ..that takes time. And then the stress of trying to care for your grandfather. He's in good hands at the home. And let him complain..he's missing his independence and he's probably really frustrated about his condition. But I'm sure he looks forward to your visits..just ignore it when he complains about anything. And when he brings up the food..Just say, look I know you hate the food..I've offered to bring you things, but you tell me no. Maybe you can bring him a book and read to him or a movie, something you know he'd like or take time to just sit outside on the grounds. But don't feel guilty because you want some time to yourself.

  • As kind as you were to you kitty, don't you think you could be much more kinder to you grandfather? After all how will you feel when he passes away? You do not want to feel guilty.
    So stay a little longer and if he complains about things just let him, you won't be sorry. All the best to you.

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