My grandmother died nearly two years ago from Alzheimer’s. She was eighty years old and had been married to my grandfather for fifty of those years. My grandma had gotten to the point that she did not know any of her family, my grandpa included.
To back track a bit, my grandma taught me a lot about living. She would always set me straight; “Adrian finish your dinner” she would say in a gentle tone or “sit up straight”. She even taught me to read along with my three cousins and sister. I remember going to my grandparent’s house dying to have grandma’s homemade banana nut bread or scrambled eggs. Those were the days. We became closer each time we were together. I remember one day I told her I played Life with a few friends. “Life is not a game young lady” she told me sternly. It took me a solid 15 minutes to convince her that I spoke of a board game.
About five years ago, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. At the time, I did not understand what this was and how it would affect her. First, her short-term memory disappeared. Then the disease attacked her long-term memory. She forgot how to make her famous homemade bread, forgot how to french braid my hair. More importantly, she forgot each of us one at a time.
In February of 2007, she was sent to a hospice in Arkansas. It was near the end. My poor grandpa muttered into the phone, “Better hurry up, there isn’t much time to say goodbye”. My mother and I rushed into the room after a fifteen hour car ride from Florida. My grandma then struggled to say her last three words, “I love you” before drifting off into unconsciousness. There is no doubt in my mind that she knew us that day. We were given that last moment.
People always say goodbyes are hard. People say goodbyes are inevitable. I believe you never have to say goodbye. The loved ones that pass on will never be lost. My grandma lives inside me and will never be forgotten.