Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday's Email of the Week: Remember to Breathe

Saturday's Email of the Week

Today I will be going on another road trip. I may have seen my sister last weekend, as well as my mother, but we will all be gathering again to celebrate my sister's upcoming birthday. That is what we do. There will be laughter, dinner and more than likely some cards to be played, long before we crawl into bed for the night. Fun, but nothing especially remarkable. 

I shall be going in early tomorrow though, as my sister and I have a little road trip planned. We will arrive, hug our Mom, wave goodbye to our children, then get back into a vehicle and drive away. We are going to see my Grandmother. She will not be joining us for dinner, even though I will almost drive by her new home on the way to my Mother's. No. Sadly, it is beyond her now. 

Last weekend, my Grandmother moved into a nursing home. She had been living in a retirement home, but was not getting on there anymore. She is pretty much at the point, where she is unable to function in a gathering, such as a family dinner. She is out of touch with current events, cannot remember what is going on in the lives of her grandchildren, let alone her great-grandchildren and pretty much doesn't even care anymore. Not that she doesn't us. I know in my heart that she does, but time has been cruel. 

My grandmother has Dementia. 

It came on gradually. She forgot what she had bought at the grocery store and bought multiple items of it. Food rotted in her fridge. When the fire department had to be called because she left a pot on the stove to boil and forgot about it, we moved her closer to my Mom, so that she would have someone to look out for her. She also moved into a retirement facility, so that she would get better care. Her meals were provided for her, her laundry done and general housekeeping performed. But it was not enough. Her short-term memory doesn't last much more than five minutes and she is getting angry. She is quick to snap at anyone and disagreeable to the nth degree. I can theoretically understand it, as I think I would be defensive and perhaps a little snappish if I couldn't remember things and people kept treating me like a child. That is theory though. In reality, I don't think she even understands what she is doing when she attacks the workers with a vicious tongue. Or when she stares at family with such fight in her eyes that it feels like hate. I struggle with that. I know I should be understanding, but when she vehemently attacks words of truth, turning them into falsities that we all know are fake, my tongue bleeds as I try to prevent words from flying out. 

You know me. Words are my strong point. My Grandmother's anger, the dementia that has turned her into a nasty and negative shell of who she once was, is so hard to deal with. She taught me never to tell a lie. And I learned those lessons well. Now I struggle not to counteract the words that come out of her mouth. I am ashamed to say that I don't always do a very good job of that. 

So tomorrow my sister and I will go to visit my Grandma. I won't take my children, as I don't want to explain her words that sound like lies, but are in truth the warped reality that is the world of dementia. We will lean on each other, as we pay our respects to this woman who was once such a powerful influence on my life. She taught me how to bake and attempted teaching me to knit. I watched her cook, can and smoke anything that she came across and loved those lessons more than anything as I grew up. Now I will offer platitudes and bring up memories of days gone long ago. For the past is the only place where she lives now. I tear up now, but hope that I have the strength not to get dragged into a fight there. I shall just have to remember to breathe. Smile and breathe.

And keep this video that my Mother emailed me in my head. 

Happy Saturday all.


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