Yesterday was 10 years since my grandma had died physically, but I say mentally she died a year and a half earlier with the onset of her Alzheimer’s. In September 2001 my mom took her for a routine doctor’s appointment. She had been not recognizing people off and on, including me, for months. She had been seeing things that were not there. When my mom took her to the doctor they committed her to a mental hospital. She never came home
I have many fond memories of going to grammy’s house. Sleepovers. Getting to eat in the living room. Playing with her. Helping her decorate at Christmas. Helping her can, garden, whatever. Going places. My mom said she spoiled me, but that is what grandmas are for. .
When she died on January 10, 2003 my mom didn’t cry. She said she had been mourning her passing for a year and a half seeing her the way she was. Not recognizing anyone and talking to herself. It took me forever to get the nerve to go see her after the initial time I saw her in the nursing home. I had a panic attack seeing her in a “lockdown” unit for Alzheimer’s patients. When she was moved to a private nursing home, I eventually went to see her, but it was her physically I was seeing. It hurt everytime. I had wished I had a way to tell her goodbye.
My grandma was not really my grandma. She was technically my great-aunt. My mom’s mom had died before I was born. My dad’s mom was in California. My great-aunt I asked her as a child if she would mind being my grandma. She never had kids. She was not able.
In May of 2002 my grandmother went into the hospital. She was having mini-strokes on top of the Alzheimer’s. I went one afternoon to visit her. She was laying in bed and me and my mom was talking to each other. In the middle of talking to my mom my grandma looked over at me and said “Clarissa, why aren’t you at work?” This startled me. Really. I got up and went over to her. I said “Because I came to see you.” She grabbed my hand and told me that I was beautiful and she loved me. I could do nothing but cry knowing this was the goodbye I was hoping for. I talked with her for a few minutes like nothing was wrong with her. I told her I had to go home, but I would be back later to see her. She said okay and I told her I loved her and goodbye.
When I came back that evening she was back to her Alzheimer’s state. God blessed me that day. Every January 10th I think back to that day and tell her I miss her. I know she is still close. I live in her house that her and my great-uncle designed and built.