Tuesday, February 28, 2012

97 and Counting

My grandpa is dying. That may seem a rather abrupt beginning to what is normally a pretty cheerful blog, but see, we've gotten used to it. After all, he's been a professional die-er for almost two years now. I personally think he's going for the coveted Longest Running Hospice Patient award.

He got his first terminal diagnosis when the heart specialist told him that with a heart like his, he should already be dead. He'd had one or more silent heart attacks in years past and almost all of his heart tissue was non-functional. He was given 6 months to live.

A year later he was given his second terminal diagnosis. Not only did he have heart that was barely pumping enough oxygenated blood to sustain life, now he had a blood cancer that was making his blood unable to carry a full load of oxygen. This time the doctor guessed about 3 months. Silly doctors! They need to quit predicting, 'cause he ain't listening.

So Grandpa remains in Hospice care, getting just enough worse each re-certification to allow him to continue in their excellent program. And we get to have our Grandpa stick around for, well, who knows?

Thus it was that this past Saturday we celebrated his 97th birthday. Thankfully, it was a very good day for him. Some days he's very tired and under the weather, sleeping all day. But this was one of his lively days, and he so enjoyed all the cards and birthday calls that he received.

I baked him a double layer lemon cake with lemon filling. It was pretty tasty; I forced myself to have a piece even though I had a touch of a cold. He has to be fed because most days feeding himself is too much effort for his oxygen-starved body. It was hard to get a picture of him with his cake because every time my mom put it in front of him, he opened his mouth, trying to get a bite. I guess he liked it, but eventually we got him to smile for a photo.

He couldn't always remember that it was his birthday, so he got a little suspicious of the whole group of us standing around grinning at him and taking his picture. We had to keep reminding him there was a reason for our odd behavior.

It was a good day for us, too, because he was much more like his old self. And his old self was a delightful, brilliant, funny man who loved his family and loved his God. I hope I can leave even a fraction of the legacy that he will leave. Whenever he's finished toying with the medical professionals, that is.


  1. What a great picture of grandpa!!! Happy Birthday Kenneth!!

  2. Looking good Grandpa...all that non eating meat is paying off..see you back here when you reach your 100th B-Day :)

    Love you Grandpa Ken.

  3. sylvia is writing by snail mail . the lemon cake looks delicious. predictions by docs are just guesses. the cancer docs usually overestimate the survival after treatment by over 500 %. on the other hand, "hanging the crepe" is an old and trusted way for a dr. to come out looking good. if the prediction comes true , he's hailed as an accurate genius. if not, he did a miracle and extended life. it's a win win for the dr. . those who choose hospice outlive those who choose icu at end stages of disease and their quality of life is worlds better, as these pictures show. compare these pics with other men, at 97, intubated, , with cardiac leads attached, unable to speak or move, because of the restraints, fed by tubes, and repeatedly stabbed for access to i.v's, many daily blood tests from veins and arteries, all for nothing in many cases.we are all slowly dying but family and friends make it easier.

  4. Happy Birthday my old friend. I wish I was there to celebrate with you. I will send a special prayer as my gift to you. I am busy traveling all over the country speaking in Adventist Churches with my wife Charmaine. We are an awesome team. I shared a little something in Fairmont's Pulpit last week. How about that? I finally made it in a pulpit in Lodi. Anything is possible with God. The pastor and held elder are joining us for lunch this Sabbath at my house. Well take care. We will have plenty of time to talk in heaven! Danny Vierra

  5. Aloha, Mr. Day!

    This is Joanne Oshita Chang writing to say Happy Birthday. You were the best English teacher at HMA, and our Class of 1961 just celebrated our 50th Class Reunion in Honolulu. My mother Winifred Oshita is going to be 96 on April 9th. So you have her beat by one year! By the way, you still look handsome!
    God bless you always, Joanne

  6. I'm thrilled to see your bit about your Grandpa, Mr. Day. He remains probably my favorite teacher of all time. He taught me history at Lodi. I wish him and your family warm, friendly good wishes. It is great that he has had such a long life. What a tough ol' nut! Glad you got that photo of his smile.

  7. That top photograph captures the essence of a very special man. I'm so glad his birthday was a good day for him AND all the rest of you! I knew your grandpa when I was a little girl in Hawaii, then had the privilege of being both his student in history and his reader at Lodi Academy. Yes, he will be leaving an incredible legacy. I sure look forward to seeing that smile again in the earth made new, with a body that's been restored to its youthful vigor!