Friday, March 14, 2014

Hey Alzheimers- You Suck

        To start with I will fully admit this is not my regular sort of post- most of what I bring to this space is of the fun and fluffy variety- today is a different story. As many of my close friends already know my Grandma passed away this week- after this statement is where I get stuck as to what to say. There is so much I want the world to know about my Grandma- like how even in the grips of a debilitating disease she coloured in children's colouring books like she was sketching in an art class- selecting colours and shading as though the lines she filled in where not already there at all. My Grandma had Alzheimer's and it sucked- big time.

      Going back to before she was sick when she was just Grandma is easy to do- there is in our case a before she was sick and an after she was sick. Our Grandma was the lady people liked to be around- her neighbours loved her for her kindness as much as they did for her legendary garden- she used to let us put tablespoons of sugar on our cornflakes- she let us watch cable TV- she got her ears pierecd when my sister and I did. She was just always our Grandma.

    Just as I was emerging out of the self involved cocoon of adolescents it was discovered that maybe my Grandma wasn't really all right- she barricaded her basement door- convinced someone was trying to break in- leaving food to rot in the fridge- wearing the same clothes for days on end. The signs were there even before but no one noticed- two birthday cards was a sign- forgetting how to spell my name was a sign. By the time I got married it was evident she had Alzheimer's- by the time my first child came along she couldn't speak- and yet she lingered as her body was strong even though her mind perhaps was not.

    She taught me how to love unconditionally- she was our soft place to fall when life got bumpy. She taught me how to observe- birds, plants, the weather- just sit and watch. She taught me how to paint a water lily. She taught me how to sew doll clothes. She taught me to save string and elastics and bread clips. She taught me it was OK to be a lady and still enjoy a beer straight out of the bottle.

   I often wonder what I missed out on- I see my own nieces are so caviller in their relationship with my Mother In Law and I want to scream "you don't know how lucky you are- your Grandma is right here and she is young and healthy!" I am envious- yes. I feel ripped off- Alzheimer's stole my Grandma and any relationship I might have had with her as an adult. Mostly I just feel sad though- sad for my Mom- sad because the Okanagan Valley is not quite the same this week.

    Alzheimer's you suck- no one really talks about what this disease actually is like- how it can last for decades. Its something that is quietly talked about behind closed doors by families directly affected- generally not spoken about in polite society- but if you mention Alzheimer's you don't have to look far to find someone affected. This disease is you and me- there are over five million Americans living with Alzheimer's- 1 in 3 seniors will die with Alzheimer's- it is the 6th leading cause of death.

    Friends it is Friday- ours will be anything but quiet- full of family- lots of cousins- lots of fine boxed wine- lots of happy memories. I encourage you all this weekend to love on your own family- embrace those closest. Much peace and love Friends- Happy Friday!

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