November 2, 20007
I believe in Life …The Golden Years
Most would say the hardest thing in life is the death of a close friend or family member. I disagree, the most depressing thing in life is watching a wonderful person you hold close to you slowly become a mere skeleton of themselves. This is not to say death is easy to handle. In fifth grade I watched my little cousin Caroline Walker die of Cancer at the age of six. But, she had her dignity, her wit and her resolve to live until the end, and now she is in a better place free of worldly problems, adversity and pain.. My grandfather is not.
My grandfather Richard Pryce Jr. was a distinguished pharmacist, he is a loving father and a veteran of the greatest war ever fought. He married my grandmother when he was twenty-one and they lived together in a trailer after the war until they were out of Pharmacy school. He went on to own four of his own drug stores in Champion Ohio, and helped the poor and impoverished of the town every chance he could. He was a School Board member and raised five successful children, one even becoming congresswomen. He once stopped a man from killing an elderly woman during a robbery attempt in his store. In every way imaginable he was what every person wanted to be; a successful businessman, a beloved leader in the community and the patriarch of a wonderful family. Now he does not even know who his wife is.
Doctors call it Alzheimer’s, but I call it a tragedy. Every day that he wakes up he is in worse condition, and the man that achieved so much is slowly slipping away. On any given day he may be feeling good, he could remember things that happened a week ago that normally he would not have retained. Other days he will be in a blissful state of confusion, laughing off his little mistakes. How sad it must be for my grandmother to come home, and have her husband of over fifty years ask who she is. For some time he was convinced that he had no idea who she was, he would not let her answer the phone or read the mail, she even slept in anavisother room. The only reason he let he stick around was because she “sure could cook”. This has taken a huge toll on my mother and all of her siblings. At night I can hear my mom on the phone with the door closed asking one of them how he was that day, her response never sounds positive and she feels even worse when she spends the day with him. Why would she feel good, her father is slowly dieing of a disease that at times he can not remember he has. One day she came home in a disheartened mood, more so than normal, and she told me that she is throwing her self off a bridge if she ends up like that.
In the case of my little cousin the family was heart broken, what else could be as miserable as the life of a wonderful young girl being taken from us. But, with time our family grew even closer, we remember her for the heart filled little girl that she was not just what happened to her. My grandfather will most likely continue to live on for years with a prolonged decline in his metal ability. This is unbearable to watch because I have seen it before, my great aunt Lea finished her life in an assisted living center where she needed help finding out why she was in a hospital, every single day. How do I deal with my grandfather not being able to figure out who I am?
The best story ever told to me was about his adventures during the war. He never saw action, but he still had a few stories I will never forget. Some where along the line one of the guys on the boat acquired a pet monkey and soon every one on the boat, with the exception of a beloved dog, absolutely despised him. One day after finding the little guy beating a wrench against the tanks in the boiler room a fellow sailor tossed him overboard. Before the treasonous monkey could hit the water his friend the dog jumped overboard to save him. My grandfather in an attempt to save the dog jumped in a grabbed him, and on his way up that horrible monkey latched on to his back and hitched a ride back on to the boat. I used to love that story, now I can not stand it because I am sure he does not remember it. That is the way I feel about his whole life, I love him and I love hearing about his life but there is a heart wrenching feeling I get when I realize he probably would have no idea what I was talking about if I asked him about it. That is what rock bottom feels like. I love him so much
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