October 08, 2005

A Letter

I've mentioned it before but my grandfather suffers from Alzheimers. When I saw my grandmother last week in North Carolina, it was the longest she'd been away from him. He lives in facility with constant care but she still goes and feeds him lunch everyday. We received a note from her yesterday. I almost hate to post it because it seems so personal. But it spoke more eloquently of her life than I ever could. Particularly in one single line. The last one.

Hi -

It was great to see you and the baby. She is a doll.

Chris - you make a great dad. For never having siblings I am very pround of you.

Beth - you do so well being mama!

We arrived home about 6:30 Friday evening. With Lisa's heavy foot, the miles roll by quickly. My knee is much better but it certainly did hurt for a few days. It was a great vacation. I don't think grandpa missed me.


Posted by Chris at October 8, 2005 03:00 PM

Grandmas know, :)

Posted by: Angelia at October 8, 2005 03:18 PM

So, that last line was kinda a kick to the gut. Your grandma sounds like a lovely, lovely woman.

Posted by: Heather at October 8, 2005 03:19 PM

Alzheimers is such a sad disease. at the end, my gramma knew no one.

your grandma sounds wonderful.

Posted by: suze at October 8, 2005 04:06 PM

We think my grandmother might have Alzheimers. It's hard.

Posted by: Spring at October 8, 2005 04:36 PM

Thanks for sharing that, Chris. It's amazing how much can be packed into one short sentence.

Posted by: Rhonda at October 8, 2005 05:17 PM

Taking care of an ill loved can be really challenging, I know. I've watched my Mom care for my Dad most of my life. He has Parkinson's and even though he's totally still in great shape, I know my Mom makes lots of sacrifices. We're lucky to have such great role models, aren't we?

Posted by: Sari Olsen at October 8, 2005 06:37 PM

That is so bittersweet.

Posted by: jen at October 8, 2005 07:20 PM

Kinda' puts it all into perspective, huh? And really makes you appreciate what you have.

Posted by: Juju's Mom at October 8, 2005 07:44 PM

I look at it this way: the fact that she has people around her to still love her and talk to helps a lot. She has great-grandchildren and grandchildren and children. And this vacation reminded her of that. Perhaps knowing that your grandfather didn't realize she was gone helped her guilt (she shouldn't feel guilty, but I can't say I don't understand). Maybe this will allow her to visit more, and be able to let go more easily. My hugs to you, Beth and the Bean (I still love the nickname).

Posted by: alektra at October 8, 2005 09:39 PM

Wow Chris thank you for sharing that with us. My heart aches for your grandmother.

Posted by: beanhead at October 8, 2005 10:34 PM

I agree with Jen about it being bittersweet.

It seriously brought tears to my eyes and I just want to reach out and give your grandma a great big hug. I'm so glad she at least got to have a vacation. What an amazing woman; you must be very proud of her as well.

OH! Guess those squats/lunges/crooning you were doing with the baby gave you "good daddy, willingtogothedistance" marks instead of "whatalosercanyoubelievehecantdealwithhisownkid - whatiswrongwithhim?!" marks. *high five*

All right, I'll quit spamming your comments now. Have a blessed day!

Posted by: Amber at October 9, 2005 02:06 AM

That last line broke my heart, Chris. It sums Alzheimer's up to a T. There is nothing worse than watching a loved one deteriorate right before your eyes. It makes me think of my grandma who had Parkinson's which, of course, makes my heart hurt more.


Oh yeah, and listen to Grandmas, they know what they're talking about!

Posted by: zanie at October 9, 2005 03:35 AM

Thats really heartbreaking :(

Posted by: Betty at October 9, 2005 10:36 AM

Aw, that's kinda sad. It's Sunday and I always call my grandparents on Sunday....I may talk to them for a little longer today. Miss ya!

Posted by: Kate at October 9, 2005 11:36 AM

Alzheimer's is an especially hidious disease, unique in the fact that it's actually harder on the family than the victim. First you have to watch helplessly as they fight the memory loss, eventually they succomb to it and you are left with a physical shell of the person you love, only to watch the motor skills slowly disappear.
My heart goes out to you, your Grandmother and all your family.
My Father was diagnosed 3 weeks before my Mother died. I was his primary caretaker. In all the sadness and heartache, I was also given many gifts: we became so much closer and I am forever grateful for our time together. I cherish those memories. I had the foresight to have professional pictures taken of us together, to ask him family history questions when he had moments of clarity - moments that became few and far between but all the precious because of that. I spent countless hours sitting and hold his hand, feeding him, shaving him, reading to him, taking him for walks, while he could still talk, he would constantly talk about my Mother, asking if she had gone "out west" and when she was coming back *sigh*.
My sister remained uninvolved however I was very lucky to have a group of very supportive friends. He died 2 years ago, eight years after being diagnosed.
Caretaking is rewarding but very emotionally draining also. I am telling you all this, not for sympathy, but to let you know that your Grandma needs you and your family more now than your Grandpa does :)
Wishing you all peace and sympathy :)

Posted by: Lainey at October 9, 2005 12:20 PM

I agree with all the first statements, and the last line, brought tears to my eyes. I see my father in your grandfathers shoes. He has not been diagnosed with Alzheimers, but there are times you know he doesn't really remember you.

Posted by: Nina at October 9, 2005 02:19 PM

Oh, Chris, I'm sorry. Heartbreaking.

Posted by: Jen at October 9, 2005 09:29 PM

Lost my grandmother to this; she was 104. A coworker lost his father last year, I don't think he was even 75 years old. He handled his father's illness with tremendous grace. He visited with him many times each week, and also made sure to take him to get his hair cut regularly.

On one of these trips, something happened that, to me, is one of the lightest moments one can imagine. As they were waiting, his father had picked-up a magazine for some light reading and had become perplexed by something he was reading. "What's this, this o- or-? Have you ever heard of an o- orr.... ORGASM?" His father had chosen a Cosmopolitan.

You can only laugh at moments like that.


Posted by: Jim at October 9, 2005 10:50 PM

She sounds a lot like my grandma. Her husband doesn't have alzheimers and probably doesn't miss her. I love them both, even though they don't seem to love each other. Now I love your grandma too. It takes all kinds.

Posted by: Amy at October 10, 2005 12:08 AM

And yet, through it all, she's still the dedicated wife. Sounds like she needs a lot of love and support too.

Posted by: Queen Of Ass at October 10, 2005 04:53 AM

Alzheimers is a strange disease. My grandmother passed away with the disease and although she could not remember who my father and mother were (sometimes she thought they were her mother and father), she always knew who I was. That always amazed me...yet I am still saddened that she had to pass away not knowing anyone except me.

Posted by: Michelle at October 10, 2005 08:20 AM

Grandma's really are the best.

That last line is so heart breaking.

Posted by: RockStar Mommy at October 10, 2005 08:31 AM