Fair warning. This post is not about Crossfit nor is it a happy one. I won't be linking to it in Facebook or any of my other social media.
It's about my Grandmother and how sad I am that she is gone. She isn't dead, but she is gone. Alzheimer's is a nasty, nasty disease... one that may hurt family members even more than the victim. It's gradual and long. It wears down family members that have to deal with all the difficulties it creates. Sometimes, I would guess, to the point of irritation.
I'm really good at denial, as I've blogged about before. Not your traditional denial of pretending it isn't going on, but rather of accepting the consequences. I was telling my mom that Grandmother had it before she ever even thought to have her tested. But that doesn't mean that once we knew that I'd accept it.
But I'm getting ahead. My granddaddy got it years ago. He died last year after a long slow deterioration. God spared the latter stages of Alzheimer's where one doesn't know family members. He still knew us all, but not much else. My grandmother took care of him virtually by herself for all those years. Once he died, it was almost as if she gave her body permission to deteriorate too. The effect was almost immediate. She began disoriented and forgetful. Soon, it was too bad to deny and mom had her tested.
I probably have the timelines wrong, but I don't care. That's what happens when you deny reality. But then something happened this week which brought the heaviest stones down on my shoulders. Stones of guilt, remorse, anger, hate, and most of all, sadness. See, I turn 42 on Monday. My wife, being the kind, beautiful soul that she is, wants to make me whatever dessert I want. This despite having to make cakes for my two daughters whose birthdays are all within the same week. Oh and hosting my parents and throwing a sweet 16 and sweet 1 party. She STILL wants my needs to be met.
That's when it hit me. She is the sweetest person I've ever known except for my grandmother. I made it worse by asking for my favorite dessert, a Pecan Pie. (Side note: as another example of my denial, I've always said that German Chocolate Cake is my favorite dessert... and my grandmother made me a least a dozen of them over the years... but the real truth is I wish, every year, I'd asked for a Pecan Pie.) My grandmother makes the best Pecan Pie in the world. My wife has slowly replicated my grandmother's most prized recipes... sweet potato soufflé and german chocolate cake. I have no doubt the Pecan Pie is next.
God, it's really crazy how these moments sneak up on you. I haven't stopped thinking about her in the subsequent 3 days since this happened. I MISS her. I miss the woman that would tirelessly prepare the best damn food you could ever eat. Her dishes were legendary and her recipes spread like wildfire among people lucky enough to taste one. I miss the woman that invented the large cookie. The Cookie Factory did not. My grandmother was feeding me big cookies 34 years ago. She was also the woman that taught me to throw a baseball... even though she really didn't know how. She would stand in the back yard and let me zing baseballs at her. Hell, I'm sure at times I terrified her. Thank God she finally told me she couldn't do it anymore.
This woman also would meticulously alter my long sleeve shirts to fit my right arm.... and cut two fingers out of my gloves. As a kid, I took it all for granted... not that she ever needed anything other than an "I love you..." Thank God I said that a lot to her.
Up until recently, I use to call her every week. But it was SO hard to talk to her. She didn't remember talking to me last week or anything I said. So I got a little worse at making sure I reached her every week. She kept asking me to bring Kate to see her even though I already had. I didn't know if I should remind her or not. It's just really hard to know how to approach it.
A couple of weeks ago, the family moved her to an Alzheimer's assisted living place. I think it was a great move. She has people to interact with and a staff to keep her safe. But selfishly, I realize that I will never see her in her kitchen again, nor sitting on her couch holding her great grandchildren. And it just makes me really really angry. I think of all the shitty people in this world and she gets picked to suffer this in her life. It makes me want to kick the shit out of whoever decides this stuff. But anger doesn't work, so I blog instead.
The most disturbing thing about this is how closely related my grandmother and grandfather's disease was. Both were fairly healthy otherwise (except high blood pressure) but both got Alzheimer's despite being from different genetic pools. And they got it within a similar timeframe. I'm convinced, more than ever, it is diet. But who know WHAT it is. They mostly ate meat, fruits, veggies and grains. It wasn't until much later in life they took upon processed foods, and never to the level we all eat now. So, who knows. We are all probably killing brain cells every day...
I don't really know how to end this. No witty closing, no words of wisdom. I'm sad and I don't know when I won't be anymore. I know it will pass, but until then, I miss her.