My great-grandmother is a zombie. There is no way to vanquish Alzheimers.

March 28, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Posted in health | 1 Comment

Last night while on the phone to my mother an image struck me of my great grandmother. She was pointing to the traditional M&Ms bowl she kept on her coffee table when my sister and I were kids. We called her Nanny and a visit to her house meant candy (naturally), card games, and small ceramic clowns that decorated furnature around the house.

She was a jump-roping woman even at the age of 80. Wrinkles in her eyes, in her face, in her hands. I have a picture in which I am about 6 and have covered Nanny, who is sitting peacefully in a chair, with beanie babies. On her head, shoulders, and lap beanie babies abounded.

I was lucky to know my great grandmother while she lived.

By the time I was old enough to appreciate how awesome my great grandmother really was, Nanny was diagnosed with Alzheimers. She had a heart attack when I was 12. Hospital visiting hours; this was the first time she forgot my name.

While her memory wasted away, Nanny’s spunk remained quite intact. My mother, sister, and I visited her at her daughter’s house (my great aunt). Nanny asked how we were getting home and insinuated that she’d drive us. My mother said, “No, Nanny you can’t do that.” to which my great grandmother responded “Don’t give me that shit Kathrine, where are my keys?”

My great aunt lived a few hours away and our visits to Nanny lessened. Each time her memory loss was more evident. She’d ask if I wanted a drink every five minutes.

At some point, I lost my grandmother.
The part of her brain that was “Nanny” died, suffocated by her disease.

Still, in relatively healthy shape for a 98 year old, Nanny lives.
She sits in an adult diaper in a chair and smiles at the assisted living staff.

In the middle of my conversation with my mum and remembering Nanny, I started crying. Blame it on my recently on the fritz hormones, perhaps. But I miss my awesome great grandmother.

I have to make a decision. Do I see her once more before she dies, or at least before her body gives in like her mind? I would like to think that she lives on somewhere in her brain, that if she can’t talk to me at least she might hear me.

I fear that if I went to visit her that I would spend the whole time crying.

The show Ghost Whisperer, despite its corny dialogue and plot lines, proposes to its audience that perhaps the dead do live on.

I have those hopes for Nanny. And perhaps she will “watch over me” when she dies. Or wait for me.

Some part of me wishes she would die so that we might have peace – she and my family. But mostly I cling to the fact that my great-grandmother, no matter how much of a potato state she’s in, is still here. I don’t want her to leave me. I often wish that she’d held out a few more years. I barely got to know her.

I think that I will go see her one more time.
I want to say goodbye. It’s something I didn’t get to do to the earth-sentient Nanny, still if even only some small part of her brain hears me it will be worth it.

Plus, I’ve graduated high school and been to college since I last saw her. There’s so much to tell.
So little time.


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  1. […] Original post by leftoverkumquats […]

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