I’ll try not to make this a depressing post. Bear with me if I veer in that direction.
First, hi! Long time, right?
Second (which, in hindsight, probably should have been first now that I think about it), Mooter is fine. She recovered nicely from her bout with Bubonic Plague. Thank you all for asking and sending your well wishes. Honestly, in all that’s transpired in the last few weeks, I didn’t realize I hadn’t been posting anything until a few e-mails from readers said otherwise. You know. The “Hey, hope you’re alright but, um, did you fall off the face of the Earth?”-type e-mails. Oof. My bad. [Insert sheepish look here.]
Something you guys should know about me. I’m an Internalist. Does this mean I shove things into people’s bodies, you may ask? Ha! You guys. So funny you are. While an interesting thought, I’m almost positive that would make me a taxidermist. Close. I keep everything inside. Thoughts. Feelings. If I ever had money to go to a shrink, I’m sure that overpayed/overpriced person would tell me that was bad for my psyche. But you see how I just diagnosed myself there? WHO NEEDS SHRINKS, CRAZY PEOPLE IN MENTAL HOSPITALS. FREE YOURSELVES!
My grandmother, the “Nana” in my “Shake what your nana gave ‘ya” tagline has been quite ill. Her battle with Alzheimer’s has gone from a trickle to a flood to a tsunami in a matter of months. There has been no preparation, no warning that things would go this way. You could tell she was foggy, sure. But, one morning, it was as if she packed a bag, snuck off in the middle of the night without saying goodbye, then, very calmly, stepped off a cliff.
When I was a kid, I used to wish terrible things against my grandmother. I’d hoped she’d get hit by a bus. You know, stuff like that. This is, by no means, an admission of guilt. I don’t feel bad for those thoughts. My own kids probably wish it on me. It’s natural. I wouldn’t be doing my job properly as a parent if somebody didn’t hate me at the end of the day.
She was mean. She was tough. She was unflinching. She was always pushing me to do things I didn’t want to, always trying to make me come out of myself when I wanted nothing more than to be left alone. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized it was her way of loving me. It didn’t hurt that I stood up to her a time or two. She actually respected me more afterward. Only then did I stop envisioning ACME products crushing her body, Wile E. Coyote-style. Understanding her helped me love her more. And now…
Those I’ve lost in my family have all died suddenly. There was no time to think about it. To process. This? Has been slow-going, but with every new development, I find I’m still feeling rushed.
After every family death, I am visited by them in my dreams. This probably sounds very James Van Praagh of me. I’ve been dreaming of my grandmother as if she were dead for a few years now. I never see her in a coffin, or speak to her. Instead, I’m at her funeral. I see the small marquee outside the funeral home with her name on it. This morning, I woke up – not having dreamed of her that I can remember – and my hands smelled like her. It’s things like this where I’m asking, sometimes telling, often begging God to stop. Leave me alone. Go away. I get it. Okay? I know what’s coming. WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO ABOUT IT?
I don’t know who this woman is left here with us. It’s not my grandmother. Every now and then, that woman, the take-no-prisoners-badass, will come out. She’ll smile and say, “heeeeyyy dahlin”. It’s slurred. It’s labored. But she’ll say it. It’s in those moments I want to wrap her up and take her away. Wherever she wants to go. Anywhere but in the body and mind that’s betraying her.
It has been hard talking about it, so I don’t. It’s been even harder seeing her like this. I knew I’d have to write this post one day, but I’ve been putting it off. Writing is therapeutic for me. It makes me say what I don’t want to which is probably why I’ve been sitting on my hands, saying nothing.
Now comes the part where I say something…
On my sidebar, I’ve put a video and badge highlighting the Alzheimer’s Association. Their Walk to End Alzheimer’s initiative is something I hope receives a huge push. I hear more and more cases. Those affected are getting younger at the time of diagnosis. Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers are sufferers, and every time I say that to a doctor accessing my family medical history, I get the same response. “Ooh.”
Take a moment. Take an interest. Educate yourselves. Get preliminary testing if there’s a history in your family. That’s my plan.
While I hope to live out my life with as many of my marbles as I can carry, I’d love to do and see something done to help this cause before I’m proven otherwise.