I gaze at her gray hair in the distance. Her spectacles shield her deep blue eyes. She glowers eternally at the living room wall, resting on the same chair, heedless of what the time is. Sometimes I wonder what she’s thinking, and other times I wonder if she’s thinking anything at all.
“Grandma, you just took your medicine,” I screech as I yank the container out of her hands.
“Are you sure?” she asks with a perplexed look. I rifle through the cabinets, hunting for another hiding spot.
“This is where all my clothes are! I was looking for these. I’ll take them home tomorrow,” Grandma cackles. She removes her blouses from the closet and places them on the bed. She hasn’t lived in her own home for months, but I’ve learned to just play along.
“I guess they were here the whole time. Why don’t you just sleep here tonight, and I’ll help you pack everything in the morning,” I say as I tuck her into bed and kiss her forehead. She calls it spoiling, but I call it love.
It isn’t easy for me knowing that Grandma will eventually forget who I am, what I’ve accomplished, and how much of an influence she has had on my life. All the exotic birthday cards, comical home videos, and beloved photos will eventually fade from her memory.
My main fear is the future – what if I can’t handle visiting a cramped nursing home and introducing myself to my own grandmother over and over? What if I can’t handle the agony? What if I can’t take the truth? All I can do is live now, in the moment, before she is completely gone from my life. She will forget, but I will remember. Everyone always says, “Everything will be okay” – but how? How will life seem reasonable when there’s no reason behind Alzheimer’s? She has no idea what’s ahead of her, and I remind myself that it’s probably better that way.
“You know you will forget everything,” I gently whisper, and a tear spills down my cheek. She stares into my eyes, looks down, and gloomily nods. I clasp our hands in an unbreakable grip. Her smile transforms into a frown, but I know in the back of my mind that I’ve been waiting for a moment like this. We sob together, not speaking a word, and then suddenly she stops. I watch, perplexed, as she opens a magazine and begins to look at the pictures. She has forgotten why she was crying. I wipe away my tears and join her on a quest to find the best picture in the Home magazine. We laugh for hours, and I pretend that there is no tomorrow.
“I love you, Grandma,” I say without hesitation as I giggle at her joke.
“I know you do … I love you too,” she replies.
I smile, knowing that this moment is genuine, and one that I will never forget.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.