Today was a great day. Yesterday was amazing! So why am I now lying awake in the middle of the night with nothing but an aching heart and dried up tears? Life is f*ing hard, no other reason.
Right now it just comes down to the fact that my gran has Alzheimer’s. There I said it. I have no other choice than to accept it now. We have known for a couple years now. However it was quite easy to ignore at first. The whole, yea she has Alzheimer’s but it’s not so bad. She can still care for herself and at that stage she was still driving so it was fine. She was fine. We were fine. Then things started to get iffy with her driving so my mother took the car away. Yet it was still fine, it was still okay. She could still cook and clean and knew who was who and where she was, mostly.
I know not everyone is sentimental and I probably obsess over the value of family more than most but I can’t help it. I am one of those who know how important family is but I am the first to admit that when things get real, I bolt. I know I will probably regret my decisions and how I have handled things, or rather, not handled them later. I am looking now at the woman who helped raise me, who was always there for me, whom I idolised wither away. Not her body but her mind. It is killing me inside. I am so torn, confused and wrecked. Now that she needs me to be there for her I don’t know how to be the person I need to be for her.
I sometimes envy my cousins who managed to escape all of this, yet at the same time I am so glad I got to be with our gran. I have so many precious memories of us together. Not of some grand outing or holiday but those mundane memories of sitting on the couch in her lounge watching the television while she mended a pair of my stockings. Or myself making noodles for lunch while she did the dishes. Then there are the many occasions she helped me bake, showing me the ropes. Or even just simply never making it through any show without her talking so we miss half of it and both not really knowing what was going on. She is my nana. Anyone who knows me knows what that means to me.
So sitting tonight it really sunk in, my gran has Alzheimer’s. She will not know my wedding. She will never know my children. My children will not know her. Sure who knows, she may somehow attend my wedding, but I know it will be too much for her. Too much going on, too many people. Even if she is still around when/if I have children it just will not be the same. She will never actually really know them.
We have all seen Alzheimer’s portrayed in movies and in shows where there is some old dear sitting and asking ‘who are you?’ We have watched them repeat themselves. In some ways those portrayals can be considered cute and charming. What they fail to show is the hurt, chaos, devastation and everything else that goes hand in hand with Alzheimer’s.
I am watching one of the best people in my life change. Her personality is twisting. She is losing herself while still being in her own skin. I know that it is eating away at her brain, killing it off section by section. The once very independent woman I knew is now unable to care for herself. I have not yet seen or experienced what the others are saying. I have not witnessed her tantrums, I have not been on the end of her verbal abuse, I have been spared from that and more. I know I see a different person compared to the rest. I know when I am with her, she is my nana. She doesn’t grumble, she doesn’t fight. When I am with her we go back to days gone by where we sit and watch a little telly as she tells me stories of days long gone. Stories that now I can recite myself; and finish them off for her when she forgets what she was going to say.
I am astounded at the strength my family has, a strength I am not sure I possess. If not for my aunts and mother, I am not sure how I would cope. I can nowhere near imagine their heart ache nor can I match them in the way they have rose to the challenge of caring for her. I can hear the voice in my head saying “Tough, it’s time to put on your big girl pants and deal”. I just don’t know how to deal. I can see how upset she gets when I try to help. It was always; she would care for and help me. Now that it is the other way I can see the look in her eyes and I dread it. She doesn’t mind me helping with her dishes, she doesn’t mind me cooking a meal or two for her but as soon as I try to do anything more I can instantly see that she does not want me too. It is hard and even harder things are to come.
So yeah, in case you were wondering, right now, life is f*ing hard.