My grandfather (Mother's side of the family) was admitted to the hospital last weekend. I found out yesterday. He's old and his health had been declining rapidly over the last few years. He's had health problems on and off as long as I can remember and has been to the hospital multiple times for various reasons. I called him on my way home from work and it was... I don't really know what to say. He didn't recognize me at first, said that he didn't know anyone by my name. It felt like getting a kick right in the belly, but I repeated my name a few times more and then he recognized me. His mental health has never been a problem before. He's one of the brightest and most quick-thinking people I've ever met. Even when his physical health started to deteriorate, his mind was as sharp as ever. Now he seemed slightly confused and asked me at least three times where I was (I was on the train) and multiple times if someone else was with me (there wasn't).
Most of all, he seemed tired. Actually, it sounded like he had completely given up.
He was very happy to hear from me though, but then he said something... He said: "It's so good to hear from you! It's so nice of you to call me like this! But I... I haven't called you..." What are you talking about? You've called me many times in the past! "I meant to call... I should have called... Things just got in the way and I never got around to..."
I've never heard someone express so much regret in a single sentence before. The words were practically coated with it and I could tell he was fighting back tears. Then it hit me. One of the most common regrets expressed on the deathbed is supposedly: "I wish I had spent more time with my children/grandchildren."
It's not right. He deserves better. He always remembered my birthdays and even called me to congratulate me most of the time. Every now and then he would call out of the blue just to small talk. I did call him as well, but not nearly as much. He made it seem as if he had neglected me, failed me somehow, when it's really the other way around. Although I look up to him, I rarely visited. I'm not fond of family gatherings or events. Our family situation is complicated and I am introverted. He shouldn't beat himself up for that.
He is twice the man I am and a very kind and caring person. He doesn't deserve to spend the end of his life filled with regret.