Monday, November 16, 2015

Alzheimer's ...taking your loved one away

Tonight I thought of my grandpa if only for a brief second, then I let the thought pass because it was too painful to bear, most memories of him are; when I think about how he was in the last stages of life. It broke my heart to watch and damn near made me lose my mind. I had a mental break for about 24 hours and then I willed myself to suck it up. Alzheimer's is no joke and is one of the worst diseases to watch your loved ones go through besides cancer. Cancer robs them of their health, but Alzheimer's robs them of their mind.

If any of you have seen The taking of Deborah Logan in the beginning of the movie, well Alzheimer's is a  lot like that. It in it's own way is a demon stripping your loved one of their memories, family and love. It's terrible for everyone involved and I feel for anyone who has to endure this slow death.
My grandfather had this and it was horrible to watch. I was in my mid twenties at the time and was a single parent, with a deadbeat boyfriend and a child to raise and to top it off, a grandfather to care for who seemed to be slowly losing himself.

There were days I'd make him dinner and he wouldn't eat it. When I got to the house he'd be gone wandering the streets only to have my neighbors bring him home. He would leave messages for me as if I still lived there scribbled on newspapers telling me he'd be back that he went to get something to eat and he'd bring me something only to forget he ever wrote it. It broke my heart but the final straw was one day when I left his laundry for him and was getting ready to leave he cried like a child and begged me not to leave him alone, so I laid down with him until he fell asleep and I slipped out the house only to cry the whole way home.We had to make a decision and soon, he couldn't go on like that and neither could we. We needed to know he was safe , I needed to know that he wouldn't cry to himself alone in the dark again.

The following days my Uncle and mother researched places that could accommodate someone of his needs. There wasn't many choices in our price range then,but we narrowed it down to Waco or here in Fort Worth. I didn't want him far away, we needed to see him and so we placed him here not too far away from where I lived. At first I went every day, then as time went on I felt more comfortable with where he was and slacked off a bit which was terrible on my part and I regret it to this day. It just got to be too much emotionally on me. I would go visit him only to find him wandering around looking lost. One day I went to go to the bathroom only to come back and watch him reset and was so surprised to see me there as if it had been months. The worst one was when I had to explain daily to him where my grandma was when he asked for her. I had to explain that she had passed away 10 years prior and then I watched his heart and resolve crumble to pieces. Eventually I just stopped telling him and learned to say she was at the store and would be back soon and he would forget just as fast. Sundays were a mess, you try explaining to a room full of  men with memory loss the score and who's playing football that day over and over..not fun my friends.My mom would take his favorite chocolate only to have the nurses steal it from him (heartless bitches). Sometimes she would take cd's of oldies up there and dance with him and it broke my heart to see them like that. He didn't belong there, he deserved more.

Finally one day we got the call I'd been praying for after years of this. They said to say our goodbyes, he was faltering due to complications from an upper respiratory virus going around the nursing home and he was too weak and old to fight it anymore. I prayed for his death so that he could truly live again and be free. He never wanted to die in a nursing home or hospital and his worst nightmares came true and all I could do was pray. He seemed to be hanging on though for some reason and it finally hit me that I believe he was waiting to make sure I was okay. He and I were close and he was practically my father for most of my life and so I leaned in and whispered "Grandpa, It's okay to let go. I found someone and he can take care of me now. You don't have to worry about me anymore, go and be with Grandma,she's waiting for you. I love you" His eyes were closed, they said he wasn't able to wake up but I knew he heard me. I saw him smile, I was the last one to see him before he left us , he passed away 10 minutes after we left to make floral arrangements for his service. I cried so hard and so long I thought my heart would explode and my eyes swell shut.

He was my hero, my dad, my mentor, my safety who would tell me that no matter what was going on in life that I always had him and that it would all be okay. A piece of me died that day too; I did the flowers for his service and my Uncle sang beautiful songs of praise at his service, which probably freaked out all the Church of Christ cause he was a bit animated or enthusiastic about the music and well Church of Christ , we're a bit prudish at times. LOL It was a nice service , I said my goodbyes but never buried the feelings that the disease ingrained into me, hate, rage, sadness and fear. Today I try to donate to the cause and to try and find a cure.

If you would like more information on The walk to end Alzheimer's here is a link for more info. I missed this walk due to a preoccupied life but I won't next walk.
2015 Walk to end Alzheimer's

Here is a link to contact a chapter in your area
Alzheimer's Walks Donate to fight this disease

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