Tomorrow I am going to spend some time with my grandmother.
I’m not looking forward to it.
Oh, my grandma isn’t an evil wench, or anything like that. In fact, I remember my grandma being fairly patient. She was a schoolteacher, and a birdwatcher, and a gardener. Most of those things require patience.
She encouraged me to read. One of the highlights of my week as a preteen, was getting to borrow 3 or 4 books off of her shelf upstairs. Classic children’s books. Like the Ramona series, by Beverly Cleary
So, if I have so many good memories of grandma’s house, why am I dreading going over there tomorrow?
You see, my grandma has Alzheimer Disease.
And it is progressing rapidly.
Some days are really good, and she’ll only forget a few things, like where she put the remote, or she’ll lose the thread of a conversation. Little things.
Other days….other days are not so good.
On other days, I’m not her grand-daughter. I’m That Girl.
Usually, That Girl is being mean to her. As in, That Girl won’t let her have the keys to the car. Or That Girl hid something from her, or That Girl won’t tell her where her kids are.
That Girl. What a bitch.
The other days are coming more and more often. And it’s hard to watch. It’s hard to hear my grandma not remember my name, it’s hard to see her having trouble locating the bathroom, or waiting for her grown children to come home from elementary school.
But, if it’s hard for me, how much harder is it for my grandpa? Her primary caretaker? Who’s had the cops called on him, by grandma, because she couldn’t remember who he was?
Or for my grandma? Who is slowly losing her hold on the present, and spending more and more time in the past? What terror and pain must she feel in those moments, hours and occasional days of lucidity?
So. Tomorrow, I’m going to go see my grandma. And it won’t matter if she knows who I am, or not.