I used to think that caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s was like learning to dance. Every second you learned a new move – and hoped, somehow, it would all fit together in a song by the end of the day. (I was never a dancer, so bear with me on that metaphor). The truth is, it’s nothing like a dance. It’s more like someone is taking a chain saw and lopping off different parts of your loved one’s personality – one day at a time.
When you read this, I’ll actually be at my Grandparents. Well. At my Grandma’s. Because, I guess, my Grandpa doesn’t live there anymore. The truth is, my real Grandpa hasn’t live there for a long time. Since 15 years ago when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Since 15 years ago when parts of his personality were removed daily at random.
This is my Grandpa. At 91 years old his biggest fault was that his body was completely healthy. He did not have a single medical problem. Except for his brain. Yeah. That. So for years, his heart has kept beating, and his lungs have kept breathing. And his brain did little else. Until Sunday. On Sunday my Grandpa lost the 15 year battle. The disease finally chopped of the part of his brain that tells his body to be alive.
Yes, I miss my Grandpa. But, I’ve been missing him for a long time, since the last time he recognized my face, the last time I heard him sing or laugh. For 15 years we’ve been saying goodbye. Now we’re ready to say it for real.
We have donated my Grandpa’s body to Alzheimer’s research. Maybe, one day, families won’t have to say goodbye – piece by piece – for 15 years.
…Death isn’t always the worst thing that can happen.
Hug the ones you love. I’ll see you next week…
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