Caregiving and dealing with tragedy

For some reason I am reminded of my Grandfather, who actually was no relation to me other than through marriage. Yet even still, was my Grandfather.

He was a simple man who was accepting, loving, kind and generous. He always believed the best in everyone and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.

I was living in Houston, TX. and traveling full-time (about 265 days out of the year). Not many know this but I used to sing professionally (Gospel music) and traveled the globe.

I remember getting the call that Granny was not doing well and of course they were getting older and wanted us to move back to Alabama and live next door to them to help care for them. So after a period of time we did just that. We took an old farm-house and moved it on the acre of land they gave us right next door. It was a RIOT!

Granny passed away from congestive heart failure maybe a year or so later. That left Granddaddy all alone. He was so lost without her. We tried spending as much time with him as possible to help with the loneliness and encouraged him to participate in Senior Citizen centers and groups. He did, but was still very lonely. They had been married 60 years (I can’t even fathom that).  He would cry every night and just try to make it through the days.

One afternoon I was working in my home office and it was around 4:30 pm I heard tires screeching and horrible noises outside my window. I can still remember the horrible sounds. I ran out to see my Grandfather having been hit by a car as he was trying to cross the street to visit a neighbor who was ill.

His body was dragged about 500 feet. The sun was going down and the man that hit him didn’t see him crossing the road.

We were devastated. All the neighbors ran out of their houses and I just stood there in shock. Someone apparently called 911 and it was just a few moments before there were firetrucks, police, etc all around. I kept going up to see what was going on and asking them, “How is he? Is he still alive?” And they kept pushing me back. I didn’t want to think of anything except that he was alive and was going to be alright.

He was killed instantly. For that, I’m grateful. That he didn’t suffer.

It was a long time before we could get over that. I still miss him.

Time has a way of helping us heal, but we never forget. I have great memories of Granny and Granddaddy. They will forever be a part of my life and I will cherish all the memories that have been etched in my mind.

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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4 Responses to Caregiving and dealing with tragedy

  1. Such a moving, sad story! Of course, you are right, that we all must face our share of tragedy in this world. I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a blessing in disguise for him as living day to day with the heartache he was experiencing can be so very difficult. I’m not sure which I would choose! The shock must have been difficult for you and your family, one that as you indicate can make you like differently at life. Thanks for sharing your journey.


  2. Nurse Tim says:

    My heart goes out to you guys as I read this story. One thing is certain in this life: eventually, we will experience tragedy, and as professional caregivers, we will be there to experience it with others numerous times. What I’ve learned by the experience is that none of us are promised tomorrow, so I want to take today to let those around me know that I care for them deeply and love them; I may not get the opportunity to tell them tomorrow. So when tragedy comes, I can remember the interaction I had with them and have peace. That’s being Christ-centered, and God blesses it. He is our peace


    • Tim, once again you have truly brought us back to our center, Christ. I always appreciate that. He is our peace, for sure. Helping others understand that and helping them through their difficult times is an awesome responsibility, yet a blessing. Taking the most of every opportunity is surely the way to live life! Thanks for the reminder.


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