Since the time I could remember, my grandmother did not know my name. She did not know how old I was, or my favorite food, or even my favorite color. When we would go visit her, we would just stare at each other. That was the only method of communication we had, or so I thought until the doctors told us that she had lost her ability to see. I liked to think that she was still there, experiencing the world around her, but unable to interact with us. But then, I liked to also think she was not there, not having to experience the pain of living in a beautiful world trapped inside her own prison cell of a body. Watching everybody she ever loved around her, changing and growing, while she continued to stay the same as her brain deteriorates.
My grandmother has a special type of Alzheimer's referred to as early onset. Most people are diagnosed after the age of 65, yet she was diagnosed at 58. It is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. When she had first learned about her illness, she used to cry every day, until suddenly she did not about a year later. She had finally forgotten that she was sick. It was nice not seeing her so depressed, but it was sad knowing that her condition was worsening. Her memories were disappearing at a faster rate as more time passed, it was scary not knowing what would fade away from her recollection next. Eventually, it was my turn, then my mother’s, then my grandfather, who had been her husband for 40 years already. How could something that we depend on so much such as our mind, abandon us so easily? Soon, she was no longer able to walk, or talk, or see as I had stated earlier. We were forced to place her in a rehabilitation and nursing center as our family could no longer support here. That was one of the hardest times that I had seen my mom go through. She could not fathom seeing the strong women who raised her, so weak and helpless. We used to go and visit my grandmother all the time, but it has been three years since then, and we barely do so at all now. She must eat food from a tube in order to survive. Something that she, herself, said she would never do. It is strange to miss someone who is still breathing and only thirty minutes away from your house, but not much is left of a person once their brain is gone. Do not get me wrong, I love her very much, I just sometimes wish she could love me back.