Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spending the Week at Grandma's - Pour Your Heart Out

Today I am linking up with my very dear friend Shell at Things I Can't Say.
Hop on over and check out her Pour Your Heart Out feature!
Maybe you may have a tale of your own to link!


I sat here staring at my reader.

"1000+ Unread" screamed at me from the upper left hand corner.

I have been away, without internet for a week. The bathrooms of my grandma's home were in serious need of some TLC. The rest of the house needed tons some attention, too.

You would think a week away in a warmer climate with no children would be relaxing. Revitalizing. Renewing. In an ideal situation, it would be.

I began each day driving to the nearest Starbucks so I would be able to complete my school work for the day. Rememer? I went back to college in January? The first two hours of my day were automatically consumed by reading and class discussion. Granted, I could have waited until later in the day to complete the work, but I knew that if I put it off, there was a good chance I wouldn't get it done.

Each day, after completing my school work, my schedule varied a bit. Some days I had lunch with my mother. Some were spent tearing down wallpaper, repapering, painting, or cleaning. Many days found me at the local Goodwill dropping of items my grandma would no longer need. Most days I visited my grandma.

One thing I have always enjoyed about my grandparents was their amazing senses of humor. In my life time, I have spent countless hours laughing with each of my grandparents.

Years ago, my grandma was nicknamed Nutty Monkey. We always joked that "Lou! Lou! Lou!" was her animal call. Lou was my grandpa.

She enjoyed riding her bike in the summer. She had a stationary bike in the basement for the days that were too cold to ride outside. She was afraid of the water and of flying. She had difficulty going to the store alone - because she never remembered where she parked the car. My grandma was an avid painter of landscapes. The paintings were always lovingly framed by my grandpa and hung around their home.

She and my grandpa had a huge backyard with tons of trees. There were dozens of birds and squirrels that lived in their yard. Each of the squirrels were named after one of the 10 grandkids.

Today, my grandma doesn't remember she has 10 grandkids. She barely remembers her kids. Bike riding is out of the question. She has difficulty even walking. She no longer paints. She can't even color in a coloring book. Today, Grandma doesn't even feed herself.

Since October, I, my brother, and my aunt have taken over paying for my grandma's home. In January, my aunt, my cousin, and I drove to Florida to go through Grandma's things and bring home what we thought would be best divided among the grandkids. Last week, I cleaned out what reamined of her belongings.

Through it all, I have held it together. I comforted my aunt when she cried. I fed my grandma because she couldn't. I read her favorite Bible passages to her. I brought her candy. I held her hand.

On Sunday, hours before heading to the airport, I stopped by the Goodwill to browse for some extra sheets for the beds at the house. While walking through the Goodwill, something caught my eye.

There it was. Not obvious, mixed in with all of the other coffee cups. It drew my eyes like a moth to a flame. It was a coffee mug that we had given Grandma years ago. Custom made by my brother. It had all of my grandma's wacky sayings on it, along with various other inside jokes.

My heart started racing. I forced back the tears from my eyes.

I walked promptly to the register and paid for my sheets.

Calmly, I walked outside to my rental car.

I opened the door.

I sat down.

I cried.

I've never really had the chance to say good-bye to my grandma. Yes, in body, she is still here. But she's not here. She doesn't laugh. She doesn't smile. Her eyes are empty of any recognition.

Alzheimer's Disease is a terrible and ugly illness.

It has stripped my grandma of everything that made her who she is and has left a shell of a woman literally going through the motions of life.

Seeing her coffee cup on the shelf at the Goodwill really made me realize that she isn't coming back. Her life has been reduced to the memories of her children and grandchildren.

I miss the sound of her laugh. I miss the sound of her voice.

I miss her.

But even though she doesn't know I am there, I will continue to visit her. I will continue to read to her. I will continue to feed her. Because I know I'm there and I know that I will never get these moments back.


Anonymous said...

Alzheimers is horrible. My grandfather had Parkinsons with dementia and I remember too clearly those days of him not knowing who any of us were or the stories about how he was chocking my Gaga in the middle of the night because he thought she was an intruder. So sad. My love goes out to you. ((hugs))

Rochelle@AFamilyofLooneys said...

Sending you hugs. I am so sorry that your Grandmom is going through this.

Jenny said...

I can't even imagine...alzheimers is just awful in what it does to our loved ones..((hugs))

Michelle Pixie said...

Through my tears I really don't know what to say. You are an amazing woman! Your grandmother may not remember things or people but I am certain she can feel all the love that surrounds her. Hugs to you my friend!

Shell said...

Oh, sweetie. How heartbreaking. You are such a kind and loving person.

Kate said...

love you.

The Sisters' Hood said...

Grateful for that cover my hub insisted putting on my keyboard ... since surely it would object to the tears covering it right now.
Its a sad cruel disease, and I hope that all those wonderful memories you will pass onto your children will make her as alive to them as she is in your heart.
What a beautiful post - thank you x

Renegades said...

Good for you to continue to go see her, to read to her, to feed her. It sounds like it's very difficult for you but good job for doing it.

Diane said...

((Hugs)) I've not personally experienced this disease so I can only imagine how heartbreaking and difficult it must be. So glad you found and bought that mug back though.

The No Wonder Mom said...

*Tears* What a difficult thing to go through. What a wonderful grand-daughter to continue to be there for her. ((Hugs))

PBJdreamer said...

A Very Beautiful Post.

I never knew either of my sets of grandparents.

thank you for sharing yours

that is all

Kim said...

What a lovely family you are to take on this kind of responsibility. Not enough of this in the world. I can't imagine what it would be like to have someone stop recognizing you when you have such a rich history together.

Babes Mami said...

It is the most awful disease, my Great Grandma had dementia and it was so hard to go see her and have her not know who I was or who she was. She would say the craziest things, like seeing her brother who had been dead for 20 years. I'm so sorry that you are going through this but you will be glad that you got this time with her. It takes a very strong person not to run and hide and act like this isn't happening. Hugs!

Andrea said...

Oh, that just broke my heart a little bit, after this line made me smile to myself: "Each of the squirrels were named after one of the 10 grandkids." I could just imagine it. But then seeing the coffee mug there, I don't know if I would have been able to walk out of Goodwill without it. I'm so sorry, but I am so glad you're spending time with her. My g-ma passed after a 13 year battle with Alzheimer's back in 1996. It's amazing how things change, but how we stay the same and watch it all fade away. Much love to you and your family. {hugs}

Anonymous said...

This is what love is all about. You being there for her, now when times are bad. She may not remember but you will forever remember her.

Many hugs for you my dear are so brave and wonderful!

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