The Cycle

Maura - Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Entered on April 3, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: change, family
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At first: I was annoyed. I was a selfish enough teenager to not want my grandma to move in. It was early June, the end of school was crawling around the corner, and I hadn’t wanted to spend the summer watching my 89 year old grandma. In the past few years, it had grown obvious that she’d become forgetful of almost everything, but now she was too negligent to remember taking her medication, or even if she had eaten or not. I love my grandma, but I wanted a summer too, and I wished for both to work out an agreement, but that wasn’t the case.

My grandma at a younger age had been vibrant and sweet. She was the type that would make you cinnamon toast, and was too kind to get angry if you broke something on accident. Her eyes are the color of faded blue jeans, and her skin is as soft and fragrant as a rose petal. She was wonderful to be around as a child. With my new subscription to teenage attitude though, I would have rather been with friends. It wasn’t that I disliked her either, it was mostly that, she wasn’t the same, it was like her vivacity had washed away, leaving a new person in her body. And that’s when we found out she had Alzeimers. Well, thats what really finalized it, that simple word that little children can never pronounce, alzeimers. It’s really what made me suck up my pride too, I was done with not caring, I began to ask her questions and talk with her. The funny thing was, it was only her short term memory that was lost, she could still remember running with her brothers in sun drenched strawberry fields, and life during the great depression. It was those things she would tell me about, all ending with her wishing she had said something to make a difference. I am firmly decided to never be a passive woman, I will never be cooped inside a home as she was, because now it only causes her regret. Though I watchedd; and am still watching as even that inside her withers away. She will sit in a chair, and stare out the window at nothing, or she will watch the flickering TV screen, without really looking. She could have the most profound life experience, and not remember at all 30 seconds later. It taught me a great amount of patience as well.

It became routine to ask the questions, because I didn’t want her to give up remembering. I wanted her to fight it, and at times, the real Grandma would break through that foggy veil, and I would see and hear the difference, only for a moment. It was sad for me to hear he calling me at night as my mother, or her talking to our new puppy, with the name of our old dog. She was so innocent and fragile, and it seemed that the sadness encompassing her was heavy weights on her tiny shoulders. She developed other health issues as well, having osteoporosis and a small fracture in her spine. It caused her great pain as well to top it off. But anyone would be surprised by how easy it was to make her happy, anything would really.

I think the cycle is, as everyone always puts it, they take care of you when you are young, and you when they are old. But its much darker of a side when you are the ones watching them fade into the scenery. I believe that old age is one of the saddest things on earth, mostly because of the overwhelming insignificance you carry with you, and watching your friends and family die off, not knowing if that person will be there next time you meet up. But I think that this cycle is something we all have to accept, because its part of your duty to care for those who gave you your foundation. We thought about placing Grandma in a nursing home, but we saw the lonly glare in many of their eyes, a defeated look, like they no longer mean anything. I noticed how much it frightened her, and thats when she turned to my mother and said with strength I couldn’t fathom,” Carol, I’m going to go out the way I’m supposed to, I will live with you until the end of my days”. No matter the struggle or pain that may be caused of watching her grow older, it is our duty to show that our love can be repayed, that this bittersweet and tender cycle will never halt.