A few months ago, I walked into the memory section of the retirement building where my grandma lives. I said hello to her and greeted her with a kiss on the cheek; she jumped up frightened and responded, “Who are you?” and I replied “I’m Emily.” Then she said “Oh! Nice to meet you dear.” When my grandmother was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she remembered my name, or at least knew that I was related to her somehow, but over the past six months, I have reintroduced myself to her several times. Although it is extremely difficult for my family, and for me, I try to visit my grandma often to cheer her up. People who have lost their memory should not be forgotten; this I believe.
My grandma has had Alzheimer’s for the majority of my life. I remember when I was younger, I used to go to my grandmother’s house pretty frequently or she would come to mine. We played “go fish” and read National Geographic magazines together. If I ever got sick, she would come over and comfort me when my mom went out so I wouldn’t be home alone. My grandma truly took great care of me and I have always known that she loves me a lot.
Her memory truly started to fail her after she had surgery for hip replacement and developed a leg problem. After the surgery, she couldn’t complete her daily routine. She couldn’t drive herself places, cook her own meals, or walk fluidly.
Previously, she was very involved with her synagogue. She went to all the Friday night and Saturday morning services, volunteered her time, and gave support to those who needed it. She helped so many people and formed many bonds. Now, no one except for family comes to visit her. However, just because she doesn’t remember the people who visit her, doesn’t mean that they should forget her they should at least visit her every once in a while. My grandma gave so much to people and they should reciprocate.
I visit my grandma very often now. A lot of the times when I visit her, I cry. I know that it is so important for me to see her, even though she doesn’t remember me anymore, because every time I visit her I put a smile on her face. I know when I was younger she took great care of me and it is time for me to return the favor. Sometimes, Alzheimer’s makes people extremely depressed and paranoid, making it difficult to communicate with them. Every time my grandma gets upset when I’m with her, I start to sing, and then she’ll smile and try to sing along.
Although it is a challenge for me each time I visit my grandma, it enriches me. I walk into her building and see her upset, and I leave with a smile on her face and mine. My grandmother may not remember me, but I will never forget her.
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