Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Grandpa William Lee Banks

The past couple of months have been pretty rough on my grandparents. I can't remember how long it's been exactly, but it seems as if they both declined extremely fast.

I remember getting a call from my mom a while ago saying that she had received a call in the middle of the night because they found my grandparents driving home from St. George on the opposite side of the freeway. Luckily, there was no accident and no one was injured. That could have been a very bad situation. Immediately the following day, both of their cars were sold.

My Grandma Banks has been forgetting things for some time now. She will ask you the same question every 2-3 minutes and you can have the exact same conversation 10 times. Since they had their vehicles taken away, her health has declined rapidly. She hardly eats and has lost a lot of weight, her kidneys are failing, and sometimes she wont get out of bed for days. There has been more than once, when my mom has told me that she wasn't sure if Grandma would make it through the weekend.

Then suddenly my Grandpa started having some health problems as well. They were finally able to get a hospice nurse to come spend an hour with each of them every day, taking blood pressure, checking oxygen levels, feeding them, whatever was needed. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough as someone needed to be with them pretty much 24/7. So my mom and her siblings have taken turns staying there and taking care of their parents.
There was one point a couple of months ago when my mom said she wondered if Grandpa had had a stroke. He was normal and acting fine one day, then suddenly he could barely communicate and all sorts of other issues. Eventually, they determined it was not quite a stroke, but something very similar where the brain goes without oxygen for a time.

My mom thinks the same thing may have happened the day before he passed.

On Memorial Day morning, May 25, 2015, my mom, Kim, and McKenzie were at my grandparents house taking care of them. My mom said that at one point Grandpa said "bathroom" and her and Kim were able to help him to the restroom. When he got back to bed, he lay there and gone within a few minutes. As my mom could see what was happening, she urged my grandma to lay beside him as she didn't think he was going to make it. I'm told my grandma kept telling him that he couldn't leave her, and that she asked him to take her with him.

I got the call around 1pm that my Grandpa had died.

The funeral was that weekend in Cedar City, UT.

I was asked to prepare some sort of musical number. I looked through a ton of sheet music, but nothing felt right. I finally remembered a song that I would maybe be interested in singing, but I really didn't want to do a solo. My cousin's wife Tina volunteered to sing with me. I played the piano, and together we sang "The Test" by Janice Kapp Perry. I was so nervous and shaking terribly, but I suppose it turned out well enough.

The funeral was really nice. There was a lot of family there, and it was good to see cousins that I hadn't seen in years. At the cemetery, my grandpa was given a military salute.

They gave my grandma a flag and thanked her for his service, there was a gun salute, and a few trumpets played. It was really cool and the most emotional part of the day for me.

My grandma has had a tough time, understandably. She forgets that he is gone and asks where he is. Then she remembers and become very sad. She's mad that he left her behind. I'm afraid that she wont be too far behind, though it's hard to say.
I lived with my grandparents for my last two years of High School, but I feel like I don't know them that well. I have very few, if any, memories of them when I was little, and I really didn't see them a ton during the time I lived with them. It was really nice to listen to people talk about his life and to learn a little more about him. It's unfortunate that it wasn't something I took the time to do while he was still alive.
 Fortunately, I was in Cedar City about 2 weeks ago and I was able to see my Grandpa before he died. I really wish I would have a least got one picture with him that weekend.
 I have the best siblings in the world and I'm so glad that everyone was able to make it.

Love you, Grandpa. 

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