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Repeat

During the summer of 2008, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It was really hard accept this diagnosis, my mom, aunts, uncles, and cousins were in denial. My grandfather, however, wasn’t so shocked. He knew something was wrong. Grandma had been forgetting things for a while now; it was only a matter of time until the diagnosis was concluded.

When my grandma was classified as an Alzheimer’s disease patient, life was confusing. Mom started crying, Uncle John was thinking, and Aunt Jenny, the baby of Grandma’s children, was talking frantically on the phone with Aunt Cary. I sat there, on the big flower-patterned chair, watching this. Grandpa sat in his chair and nodded off as usual. I got up and went over to Grandma in the other room. We talked for a while, as if nothing was wrong. As far as she knew, nothing was wrong. She had already forgotten what all the commotion was about.
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When I talk to my grandma, it’s usually a similar conversation every time. She has a picture of me when I’m about eight. In the picture, I am not smiling, and I have my head in my hand. It looks like I’m mad. This picture is our conversation starter. Grandma smiles and says, “Every time I look at this picture and I see your pouty face, it reminds me of my mother.” When she says this, she makes funny faces and we have a good laugh. She talks about how much I remind her of her mother. She believes my name should have been Hanna, the name of my great-grandmother. From the stories I’ve been told, I am the spitting image of her. The conversation continues. We talk about school, church, my sisters, my boyfriend, and anything else she can think of. Our conversation is usually interrupted by a sister, or mom, or another family member, so we talk again later.
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I have a big family. Grandma had six children: Peter, Tom, John, Cary, Peggy, and Jenny. I have fifteen cousins on my mom’s side alone. We knew life from this point was going to get interesting. In 2009, Grandma’s forgetfulness wasn’t so bad, a few repeats here and there wasn’t so awful. Easter was a big family gathering, along with Thanksgiving and Christmas. During our Easter celebration, she would ask us kids how many Easter eggs we found, even though it had to be fair for everyone so we all received the same amount. On Christmas, Grandma would ask us what we got from Santa and how many cookies we snuck from the dining room full of sweets. These questions would be asked every half hour or so, and my cousins and I all hoped we wouldn’t get stuck answering them again.

Repeating ourselves can be draining, and having the same conversations over and over again gets a little annoying. This life is getting to be a bit more difficult. I understand it is harder for Grandma though. She can remember her childhood and growing up, but she doesn’t know what happened five minutes ago. She has to ask the same question repeatedly, and she doesn’t even know she already asked it. She looks at our fake smiles because she already saw the real ones. Also, she has to live her life knowing she’s not going to know what’s going on.

My grandma has a way to make everyone smile. She brightens a room when she enters. Her passion for life is amazing, and she is always happy. No one can do anything to put her in a bad mood. Her perseverance through this is remarkable. She treats life as a gift, and she decided she isn’t going to mope around in a huff, as she says. Grandma believes in God and that he can get her through everything life throws at her.

I believe my grandma is my hero. She has the courage to face each and every day with hope. With her shining through my life, I know I have her support with the decisions I make, and all the moments that we have together.

In the future, we, as one big family, realize her condition is going to become worse. She will forget more and our conversations will become more frequent. Things will get really bad, but we love her and that’s all that matters.

There is one thing that makes my grandma and I have a close connection, our name. My grandma’s name is Peggy, and so is mine. (My mom’s name is Peggy also.) Nowadays, Grandma jokes about how she will never forget my name because it’s hers too. It hurts inside when she says this because I know that one day she will most likely forget it anyways.
I love you, Grandma.





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