Sometime in the 1960’s, my Grandpa was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. By the time I can remember things, he spent all of his days in a wheel chair. He was an electronics whiz, and showed me all kinds of cool things as I was growing up.
When he died (when I was in high school) my grandma lived alone for a few years, but her kids eventually decided she shouldn’t any more. The "kid" most willing/able to take her in was my mom. By that time I was in college, so I never lived with them.
It soon became apparent that she had Alzheimer’s disease. She had always exercised her mind with word puzzles, books, etc. She began to not be able to do them, and then she began to read the same pages over and over, and eventually forgot how to read altogether. My mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few years back, and my dad pretty much took care of them both for a long time. My mom still has a tumor in there, but it’s not doing anything, so she’s fine ’til further notice. Grandma began to forget people, not realizing she had any kids at all. In the past year or so, she forgot how to use eating utensils, and forgot that eating was something people did. Alzheimer’s is a hard thing to live with.
My mom’s a nurse, and worked in nursing homes for about 20 years. She doesn’t have inherant problems with them, but she often felt like the children or family of the people living there gave up far too easily, and put their folks in a home so they didn’t have to think about them. So my mom decided she’d keep grandma at home as long as she possibly could.
A couple weeks ago, my folks went for a walk and when they got back, grandma was unconcious, and they couldn’t wake her up. The good folks at the hospital told us she’d had a stroke, and would need continuous medical care from that point onward. So she went to the Lincoln Haven nursing home. My mom had worked there for about 6 years, so she knew the people there.
This morning at 4 am, Grandma finally decided she’d had enough. Day before yesterday was her 86th birthday, and today she’s having a nice dinner with Jesus and Grandpa. Probably doing a crossword puzzle at the dinner table too. 🙂
No-one’s very sad about this. Grandma’s been "gone" for a long time. She’d stopped enjoying life quite a while ago, and my parents were quite confined in what they could do with their lives. She’s a lot happier now, and an awful lot of other people are more free to do things. I’m not even going to the funeral. I’ve had a conference lined up for a while now, and my family all understand. I told Grandma I loved her at a time when she understood who I was and what that meant. That’s good enough for me.