Sunday, July 11, 2010
Today was a kind of sobering day. I went to visit my grandmother in the nursing home at which she now resides. She has Alzheimer's, so, frankly, these are never fun trips. It's not that I don't enjoy in a way my time with her. I just hate to see her in her current condition. I think back to when I was growing up and how different things were. She helped to raise me; there are a lot of memories of things that will never be again. I mourn the condition that erects a more solid wall between us as time goes on. I mourn the fact that my children will never know the woman that she really is. I think it's one factor that kept me from visiting her like I should. Not having to see it made it easier to not think about.
I finally got my act together and realized that, even though our time together is not as I would wish it to be, it's time for us to be together, and that is, in itself, a precious gift. My children may not ever know the woman Grandmother really is, but they will see glimpses of her through the cracks of this disease. I make visiting her a priority now.
Today was an off day for her. She seemed hazy, sleepy and just not there. She didn't remember our names. I thought that she might go to sleep right there in her wheelchair in front of us, but for the baby making her loud noises. Days like today just make visiting hard. She can't hear well, and, when she's not really there, it makes solid, meaningful communication impossible.
I came home, always glad for the time with her, but saddened at the lack of time with the real her, if that makes sense. I hate that our time together has to be spent in that facility. I hate seeing the lack of independence that people in my grandmother's condition have. There's so much about it that I hate.
But I'll tell you one thing. It made me appreciate that much more the freedom, the opportunities, the possibilities that I have as an individual at this point in my life. Some people may look at something like Alzheimer's and say, how could a loving God allow it to happen. I suppose when we're faced with such awful circumstances, that's human to wonder. But perhaps God, in his everlasting mercy, specifically allowed Alzheimer's to be a disease for the elderly; this way, people have a chance to do some living before so much of their freedom, opportunities and possibilities are taken away. Just a thought.
When I got home from the nursing home, I went for a long, hot run in the NC heat and humidity. I ran until my lungs hurt, and my side cramped, and I didn't think I could go another step. And then I ran some more. Because I could.
And, while I still can, I will.
Let's live life while we have it to live, every single monotonous, glorious minute of it. Perhaps that will enable us to be a spark to those who have a little less of it to live right now.