The People in Your Neighborhood, Part IIIa: When this Man was Well…

Continued from Tuesday, December 4

“Your grandpa’s gonna live forever,” my Grandma China once told me. “That man doesn’t have a care in the world.”

My maternal grandfather, Florentino Moran, was a World War II veteran. He landed at Omaha Beach D-Day plus two. And though he suffered from depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he never talked much about the war or how that experience shaped the rest of his life. Occasionally a story would surface, usually in the context of a long conversation that had nothing to do with the war.

We had these conversations as I drove him back and forth from Deming to Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces, where my Grandma China spent the last few weeks of her life, first recuperating from a pneumonectomy that was supposed to keep her cancer from spreading, then struggling to breathe as pneumonia infected her remaining lung. Pneumonia developed into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Her only lung stiffened, the lining like scar tissue.

My physician assistant cousin says that the heart has reserves. Often it will surge in the body’s final moments. My grandma’s heart didn’t do that. She passed less than thirty minutes after the machines were disconnected. She had nothing left.

On that road from their house in Deming to the hospital in Las Cruces, my grandpa told me that she had the most beautiful legs when he met her more than sixty years earlier. He said that my mom and I got our brains from her because she had gone to school through junior high, and he’d had to quit after sixth grade. As we passed a crew resurfacing the road, he talked about working for the Highway Department after the war, before depression and PTSD made it impossible for him to work. At lunchtime, the guys would gather in the trailer to eat. Instead of going back to work, my grandpa would sometimes fall asleep. “I was just so tired, mi’ja. I don’t know why.” He’d lose track of time and sometimes miss the rest of the day. “The other guys would make fun of me,” he said, “but my supervisor would tell them, ‘Let him sleep. When this man was well, he was the best worker I had.’”

Coming December 18: The People in Your Neighborhood, Part IIIb: When this Man was Well…

Published in: on December 11, 2012 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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