My Maternal Grandfather is by far my favorite person I ever known.
Born in 1935 and named after an old prominent man in Luo Kambija clan, the tradition then was that when a prominent elder passed on, children born around that time got that name and this was the case with my grandfather.
During those early days when he was born, child mortality rate was very high but he was among the luckiest children to have survived. His parents brought him up well. He was able to attend school and advanced in his career, however in his early teens he started smoking and indulging in alcohol. He did this for quite sometimes until he married and then fell off the wagon. He believed in having a big family and married close to eight wives. My grandpa used to joke that monogamists are cowards! He established different homesteads for all the wives to reduce jealousy and would summon them from time to time for family meetings to create peace.
I remember when I used to visit my grandmother (who was his 2nd wife), my grandpa would come over for the weekend, he would plonk himself in his favorite seat with newspaper in his hands and smoke like chimney then he would summon us together and tell us smoking is dangerous for us while pointing out his wooden club at us and then say he was the only one allowed to smoke.
Memories of him carrying us around, buying goodies for us and dancing with us around are still fresh in mind. He was a hardworking person, a loving grandfather, a strict disciplinarian, always dressed in smart suites and ties .Walking energetically flapping around his walking stick.
His Journey through palliative care
Earlier this year 2018, he started falling sick and was always in and out of the hospital. He visited close to three hospitals in Nyanza province for check up and treatment and was found to have lung cancer. When a CT scan and MRI were done, it was discovered that the lung cancer had advanced and had spread to the liver. The metastasis was large and obstructed his bile duct.
One morning in September 2018, my mum called me and she sounded very low and worried concerning my grandpa’s condition. She thought he was going to die that day since he was in a lot of pain and suffering. At this time I had just started interning at Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) and I shared his story with my supervisor, Dr. Kinyanjui who then advised that with the prognosis and the pain, it was in order for my grandpa to seek palliative care guidance.
My family at this time did not know much about palliative care and so convincing them to bring my grandpa to a hospice was difficult. With the help of KEHPCA I contacted a palliative care team in Kisii who went and paid a visit to my grandpa through the help of my mum at the hospital where my grandpa had been admitted.
One week passed by and his condition worsened every day, then my elder cousin organized for him to come to Kenyatta where he would undergo a binary surgery. At this point, we thought that what he needed was more than just palliative care but hospice care because the probability of him getting cured was very slim and he was a bit long in the tooth to carry out with his normal life. He needed consistent help and care.
With the help of KEHPCA I managed to contact Our Lady Thigio Hospice in Limuru where my grandfather was taken to afterwards. He stayed for thirty one days at the hospice and we would take him weekly for doctor’s appointment. He had seen some of the good doctors around but they all said that the chances of him surviving were very low.
As a family we had to deal with it, with the counseling we got from the hospice and regularly as his grandchildren, we took care of him and showed him so much love, always being there for him. He loved us (his family) and believed that if he was not to get cure, then he was going to go to a better place. The palliative care he received prepared him spiritually, intellectually and emotionally and we as his care givers also felt a sense of reassurance.
Unfortunately, one morning of 29th October, 2018 10:00 a.m. his organs just slept, gone, gone never to be heard or seen again. I remember my mum crying uncontrollably when she had just gone to see him but could not talk to him. Deep down inside our hearts we knew that grandpa was resting with angels since while at the hospice he even accepted Christ as his lord and savior. It’s a day I will never forget for the rest of my life, we finally took his lifeless body to Chiromo University Morgue and finally laid him to rest at his Sare, Kamagambo home in Rongo County, on the 16th November, 2018. May His soul rest in peace!