Saying Goodbye to Grandpoppy

About two years ago my dad was first diagnosed with cancer. He bounced back through a lengthy regimen of monthly chemotherapy.  In the fall that stopped working. 

We didn't know it at the time, but when we drove down to Milwaukee two weeks after Theo's birth, it would be our last time seeing my dad. The day before we were to drive down to Cudahy my mom called me to to let me know that my dad was moving to a hospice.

I'm glad timing worked out that we were able to come down. A week ago we were in the hospital and wouldn't have been able to go.

Theo did end up rebounding from the jaundice. The day after we were released his levels went up again. A few days later he was checked again and they had only dropped a small amount. Since they dropped and didn't go up, no additional medical attention was needed. I just had to make sure I was feeding him every 2-3 hours.

We made our first stop in Black River Falls to change and feed baby.

While Brooke fed the baby Meadow and I walked over to the nearby Culver's. The night before she had drawn a beautiful picture of her holding grandpoppy's hand. I wasn't sure how she was going to react to seeing grandpoppy so ill.

After driving the whole day we ate dinner with Nana at a Jimmy John's. I think she likes her new grandson.

Theo's first restaurant!

When I was born, my grandfather (my dad's dad) didn't get a chance to meet me. He had a heart attack a month after I was born. I was worried with my dad's deteriorating health that Theo wouldn't meet Grandpoppy Tuska. I'm so thankful that my dad held on. The night that we brought Theo was the last time we were able to talk to my dad. 

He was  nervous about holding the little guy, just as he was when they first visited Meadow. After a while he a was a natural. He told the nurse, "My name's right in the middle. Jeffrey's his middle name." I'll never forget how proud he sounded. 

My mom, Brooke, Meadow and I spent the next few hours with my dad. Meadow was too scared and ended up going to the waiting area. I know it was probably hard seeing her grandpoppy coughing so hard. I've never cried so much in my adult life. When dad took out his hearing aids we knew it was time to go for the night.

He seemed pretty strong still and was able to do things mostly on his own. 

The next day we found out that my dad had a respiratory episode in the morning and the hospice moved him to a morphine drip. We had planned on coming over in the early afternoon, but were told to put it off until the evening.

Theo has been pretty easy going, but the interrupted sleep at night was starting to get to me.

Meadow and I played in my childhood yard. Everything I looked at or touched brought a wash of tears to my eyes. I knew that the next few visits would be the last I'd see my dad.

Meadow and I went over to Cudahy Park to escape from my parent's house for a bit.


This kid is the perfect distraction from the pain of losing a parent.






 After playing at the park, we all went back to the hospice to visit my dad. This time Meadow and Brooke stuck to the family play room. My mom, Theo and I sat and chatted about memories. Well, Theo mostly just sat in my arms.


My dad wasn't able to talk, but we knew he was listening. When my sister called we put her on speakerphone. Dad waved when she said hello. 

I wish he was still at home when we came to visit, but we're so lucky we saw him the night before and he got a chance to hold Theo.

Over the past few days Meadow's been making a camping list.

This is coming from the girl who says she doesn't like camping anymore.

Nana and Meadow have been having fun playing together despite the circumstances.

Hey, sleepy head.

I think you mean Sir Sleeps-A-Lot.

I think Meadow might miss having a backyard more than we thought.

She later told me she just likes that there's no snow here.

Meadow and I spent the day playing "tennis ball" and exploring the yard.

We ate some old school Tuska nachos and then mom and I went to the hospice. I thought it would be easier on Meadow.

Two months back my dad seemed relatively healthy. The cough caused by the lung cancer was creeping back, but he looked good. Even a month ago he was still going for walks by Lake Michigan and visiting Holy Hill. Over the three days I went to see my dad at the hospice, his body started shutting down. 

When we arrived the nurse let me know it could be tonight. I went back to get my mom's stuff so she could spend the night with her husband of 40+ years. When I got back we played dad some CSNY, Joni Mitchell and, of course Neil Young. Dad loved Neil Young.

The next morning, on my way back to the hospice, my dad moved on to the great beyond. It hit me like a rock, but I was so grateful I could be by his side his last days.

It's too bad the timing with having Theo happened or we would have visited more in the last two months.

My sister, Katrina, was on her way from Michigan when she heard the news. A few hours later she arrived at my parent's house. It was so great to have her here. Simone and Aunt Katrina were so excited to meet the little one. Our emotions have clearly been a roller coaster.

Theo was instantly loved by his new cousins.


I brought up the big box of Barbies and clothing and the kids divvied them up. The kids were a perfect distraction.

It was like Christmas for them.

When Theo wants to nurse I put him by my cheek to give me "kisses".

This was the outfit Meadow put on Joey Mac.

Dennis, Katrina and the kids, Brooke, Meadow, Theo and I, and mom went to dinner before the Wrobleskis went to a hotel for the night.

In the morning the kids played again while my sister and I continued the process of cleaning out my parents house. For the first time since its construction a Tuska won't call Ramsey Avenue home. My mom will be moving near my sister in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On the way out it was hard to tear these two little gals apart. Cameron gave little Theo a sweet kiss. 

These two like all the same things, too bad they live so far apart.

We'll miss you daddy and we'll make you proud. As I put it the day after we lost dad:


"My dad was open-minded, compassionate and selfless. He's always been there for Katrina, Colin and I. He never missed a track meet, play or driving Colin to and from a rave, radio station or whatever other shenanigans he was up to. In recent years dad and I had many debates and discussions about what he read in the newspaper. We usually agreed, but still discussed until bed on every visit.

Dad stood by my mom through the past two decades of her neurological disorder. He took Gail to every appointment. He drove her to more NKOTB and Jordan Knight concerts than I can remember even if it wasn't his thing. He was always dedicated to my mom.

I fondly remember a random road trip where we went to see a Badgers basketball game in Champaign-Urbana, took a detour over to Indianapolis and then, if I remember it correctly, went to the last Dog and Suds on the Wisconsin-Illinois border. Or as he would say, “Illinoise.” He never liked the straight route home.

We'll miss you poppyseed. I know you're watching a Brewers win in the great beyond."

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