Okay, I am pulling a blog card today. My grandmother died yesterday morning of Alzheimer’s complications… and I feel a little out of step with the rest of the world who didn’t just lose their grandmothers yesterday morning.
She died as she lived, bitching and laughing, until she passed out at last, and the fluid that kept creeping into her lungs made it too difficult to breathe, and she stopped. My grandfather (who died a few years earlier) used to say that if grandmother wasn’t bitching about something, she just wasn’t happy.
As Alzheimer’s deaths go, it was pretty stellar. She had been deteriorating rapidly for the past year or so, but there was enough cognizance left so that she mostly knew who she was, and if you approached her happily and as if you were old friends she just assumed you were. She was bed bound and generally not conscious for more than a few minutes at a time, but she was also still feisty enough to let everyone around her know what she was thinking… even if it had little to do with the reality the rest of us were in.
She would sit and dream, occasionally speaking to the people she was with, asking questions, laughing, eating, drinking. We tried to keep up with the dreams as best we could so that we could answer appropriately whenever we were asked a question about something that was happening seventy or so years ago. It was kind of fun, and a forgiving sort of game. Pretty much anything you said with a smile would be accepted. The dreams seemed like nice places to be.
I am sad to lose my grandmother, and sad as well to lose the closest tie I had remaining to my grandfather. But I am grateful beyond words to have seen her spared the slow, wasting decline that many Alzheimer’s sufferers have inflicted on them by well-meaning children who want to do anything they can to hang on to people in misery. That, thankfully, was not for her.
I loved my grandmother, and even though it’s not the same, I love you guys too. Our association is by the loosest of ties, but we talk, we communicate, and we touch each other’s lives, and I value it.
Have a happy and safe Halloween, and go give your grandmother a hug.