He knows- My grandfather’s brave struggle with Alzheimer’s

This morning I woke up physically ill to the point where I had to push back a meeting originally scheduled for this morning to tomorrow thereby making tomorrow’s task list.. a doozy to say the least.  But at least a lot got accomplished and is in process.  Life is an ever evolving (hopefully) series of self processes.

After I went back to bed I woke up only a few minutes later to a phone call from my father:

“Do you want to talk to your grandfather?”

At not even 8am I knew that dad must have finally made his vacation to visit them.  Despite the illness, I obliged… always ready and happy to hear anything I can from my grandparents especially at this most delicate time.

“What are you doing right now?” my grandfather said.

“I’m in bed right now..”

“Is the sun shining?”

“I think so.  Pretty sure.  But I’m in bed right now what are you doing?”

“It’s early there huh?  You don’t sound well.  Are you sick?”

“I’ll live.  What are you guys up to?  When did dad get there?”

“We’re at a graveyard visiting people.  I don’t know when your dad got here.  I don’t remember..”

“You’re where?!”

I got frustrated.  What the hell was my father doing taking my dying grandparents to a graveyard?  I understand the desire to pay his respects to those lost and now in their plots back home but…

and my grandparents, as well as my dad, already have their spots waiting for them.  Potentially in that graveyard.  It made me feel more ill and upset when I even attempted to stomach it.

I would have to talk to my dad about it later.  Just another gap in a huge communication issue.  I couldn’t say anything about it to grandpa.    And even if I did, he probably wouldn’t be in a position to really hear it to understand.

“It’s sunny here and it stopped raining.  We’re just visiting people for a few minutes.  Do you remember Pat Cole?  She played the organ at church.  I remember that lady.  I don’t remember much these days but I remember her.  Or I think I do.”

Pat Cole was ancient when I was a kid.  What I remember was her house being a cluttered mess and always smelling of smoke and formaldehyde.  I remember as a kid that I used to joke that she was already a zombie.  I couldn’t tell grandpa that either though.  I didn’t want to come across as being rude.

“Now we’re in the car going to get your cousin some clothes.  She doesn’t have enough.  We’re going to get her some more…”

I could go onto a tangent about this cousin and that part of the family alone but that’s another one “for another blog”.  Let’s just keep things at my grandfather for now.

“How are you enjoying Ethan being there?”

Grandpa laughed.  You could hear his smile through the phone.  Ethan is his first grandson.  You can almost tell he has a special spot for him.

“He’s a really great kid.  Really really great kid.  Smart little bugger.”

“How are you and gram doing?  Is dad taking you to doctors and things?”

He then went down another path.

“My memory isn’t what it used to be.  I can tell.  I know that something just isn’t right.  I can’t remember what I used to remember easily.  I don’t know why but I just know it’s not right.  All I can do right now is try and make the most of what memories I have and hope these ones I’m making stay put.”

I think about the things my grandpa has told me over the past month over the phone.  Of the phone call I had when I was crying because I felt there was no one I could turn to that could get to my dad like they could… and him floating off into another world where he.. knows he’s barely here anymore.

I don’t know if all men or people in general go through that “knowing” period like he is.  There is a part of me that wonders if this will be my fate as well.  If all the magic that I learned about my grandparents was nothing compared to the magic and wisdom and honesty and compassion I am seeing coming from them in these, possibly their last years.

I don’t want to think about the visits to graveyards with end dates now placed on my grandparents’ headstone.  

I think about how much my grandfather seems to know what is happening and… how brave he is being throughout all of it.  Grandpa is known for being a bit of a cry baby at times… like when he was young and his semi truck got stuck going under the underpass and they had to let all the air out of the tires to get it through and he cried like a baby the whole time.

This wasn’t that guy.  This was… someone different.  Hell, maybe it was a guy who actually learned something throughout all of it.

Grandpa’s strength knowing this gives me hope.  Perhaps knowing and being scared isn’t as terrible as one may think.

Perhaps he already knows that he’s going to be immortal anyway…

Perhaps, because, he already is.

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One thought on “He knows- My grandfather’s brave struggle with Alzheimer’s

  1. Pingback: (Not quite) A Picture Perfect Holiday Recap | I am an Enigma

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