Tuesday was my grandmother’s 91st Birthday. She lives in Florida now. The land of sun and sand. She used to live 5 minutes away, enduring Chicago winters until last April. That’s when her and my grandfather were required to move out of state. If they stayed, they wouldn’t have been able to live together. Nana has Alzheimer’s and they would have forced her and my grandfather to live in separate areas of the nursing home. They weren’t having any of that.
It is always difficult and painful to watch someone in a constant decline, especially someone you are so close to. The ongoing pain. The look of struggle on their face when you can tell they really want to remember who you are.
It seems just as difficult sometimes to remember who this person was before a disease invaded their mind.
Nana was always the quite one. She would spend her days cooking, reading, and listening to Cubs games on the radio. She listened contently unless she felt you were doing or saying something wrong. If she didn’t agree with you, she would jump in and become an obsessed debater. Calling it a debate is a stretch. More like a soliloquy.
Nana was not the grandmother you thought you wanted as a kid. She never let us have that extra dessert and we never received outlandish presents. Just like with her own five kids, the grandkids were never spoiled.
But we sure knew we were loved. Every time we would leave she would tell my brother and I, “I love you all the bushel.” We would roll our eyes and tell her how corny she was. But we would have been devastated if she didn’t say it to us.
Of all the things I learned from Nana, her devout faith is the picture I conjure up every time I think of her. Even on days when she can’t remember my name she can still quote scripture or sing every verse to hymns even I don’t know.
As difficult as it is sometime I have to continue to force myself to think about her like this and not as the lady starting blankly back at me when I tell her “I love you all the bushel.”