Nonno was my last surviving grandparent and I ensured that I spent quality time with him each week. We would play a traditional Italian card game called 'Scopa', which we turned into a championship tournament (he won 30 games to my 20). I savoured each moment.
When Nonno was admitted into hospital for the last time, I had a knowing that this would be 'it'. I was with him for his last conscious moments and earlier that morning, I was able to show him photos of my parent's 40th wedding anniversary we'd celebrated two days before.
We had embarked on a minibus trip down memory lane and visited all the places that were significant to them and their lives. Their family home where each of them lived as children, the church they were married in, the town hall that hosted the reception and their first home as husband and wife. It was a great day, that produced great happy photos.
Nonno's smile was so big. Seeing us in front of these places was as much a reflection for him as it was for my parents. I couldn't help thinking what it meant to him to see his one and only surviving child (my Dad) with children and grandchildren standing in front of all the places that were of great significance in his life. Nonno was happy (and very grateful) that we shared the photos with him.
Soon after the slideshow, Nonno's eyes closed and he remained unconscious for most of the day. He miraculously opened them briefly for but a few seconds when the rest of the family joined us. He even managed a smile as he focused his gaze on his great grandchildren.
It was getting late and we were making plans about what to do overnight. I was reluctant to have my Nonno be alone so I volunteered spending the night in his expansive hospital suite. We were discussing our plans as we waited for the hospital staff to bring in something to make me more comfortable, like a blanket. All the while, I was holding his hands.
Then something unusual happened.
Nonno opened his eyes and looked as though he was attempting to raise his head and shoulders off his pillow. Within a millisecond of this happening, I had the strong feeling that this was to be his last breath. I kissed and hugged him with all my heart and said "Bon viaggio Nonno, I love you, salut' a Mamina"... and that was it. He departed.
After the fact, I reflected on those last moments. What it must have felt like for him to have left this life in such a way. I think it would have been lovely. I am really grateful that I went with my feelings and prohibited my head to talk me out of it. I am often so fearful of doing something wrong and making mistakes that I regularly talk myself out of doing things that are instinctual (then later finding out that it would have been the better option).
I'm signing off now, it's time to visit Nonno.
Until tomorrow, allow your instincts to lead you despite your head thinking otherwise.