Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Lights Are On

I just had to share the most amazing thing that happened to me yesterday (even though I should be doing some last minute studying for today's lab practical...).

I was lucky enough to grow up with two sets of amazing grandparents. I was closer to my mom's mom growing up. Grandmother lived about 20 minutes away, but I spent every free second I had with her. My mom's stepdad was my "Bob" and the first person I ever lost. My dad's parents lived 100 rows of corn away, and I went to their house everyday after school and played cards with Granny. We lost Grandmother in 2005 - and I still miss her everyday. My dad's parents still live 100 rows of corn away...

I know I have mentioned before that from time to time I stay with my grandparents. They need 24 hour care - my grandpa had a stroke 2 years ago and is wheelchair-bound. He can walk, with the aid of a walker, but can't really speak. Granny has Alzheimer's. Before Grandpa's stroke he took care of her all by himself. I really don't know how he did it. He'll be 89 in April. Up until the day of his stroke he was still tending to the animals (cows) and gardening and doing everything around the house. He's a pretty amazing man.

Most days Granny spends the day in bed. She never knows where she is. She knows her family, but can't remember how to get up out of the chair or where her bedroom is. Alzheimer's is an awful disease.

Yesterday after class I went out to sit with them because their regular weekday sitter was sick. When I pulled up to the house, they were both sitting on the front porch - which is rare for Granny. Grandpa would prefer sitting on the porch all day - even when its 100 degrees out in the summer.

Granny stayed up all afternoon. She would sit outside for a while, and then come sit in the living room. We chatted and visited and it was an unusual and totally enjoyable afternoon.

Around 4, I was going to start cooking supper. I went out to the bathroom (it's on the back porch!) to wash my hands. I walk back into the kitchen and Granny has gotten a box of frozen sausages out of the fridge. She cut them open with a knife, got a cookie sheet out of the cabinet and put them in the oven. (I waited until she left the room to turn off the oven and put the sausage back in the fridge!) I started cooking supper and and she stayed with me in the kitchen the entire time, stirring the potatoes, getting the butter out of the fridge and helping me make gravy. She walked out of the kitchen once, and I thought that maybe that little shining light I saw in her eyes had gone out. But she had gone to the bedroom to make her bed!! In two years she has never once tried to cook. Not only did she help me cook, but she set the table!!! Normally Grandpa eats in the dining room and Granny eats in her chair in the living room.

I went in and told Grandpa that even though it was early, Granny had helped me cook supper and set the table, so if it was ok with him, we were going to have supper early. He grinned from ear to ear. It was so cute, the two of them sitting at the dining room table enjoying a meal together.

If any of you have ever had a friend or relative with Alzheimer's or Dementia, you understand what a big deal this is. This is as close to lucid I have seen my Granny in a long long time. It absolutely made my week. This disease is hard. It's hard on her, and hard on the family. Seeing someone you have loved your whole life become a totally different person is heartbreaking. Knowing that it will only get worse makes these rare moments even more special.

Yesterday was a day I will cherish for the rest of my life.


  1. This makes my heart swell. I am so glad you got to share a rare moment like yesterday with your granny.

  2. Loved this. Thank you so much for sharing. My SIL's mom is having trouble with dementia like symptoms after a bout with encephalitis and every little spark is just heart warming. I hope your granny has many more sparks!

  3. Thank you for this post. You're fortunate that she remembers you and your family...I know there's coming a day when my grandmother won't. Lock that memory away and never lose it!

  4. I am happy for you that you had such a great day with them! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Awww, that's wonderful! I work with elderly people and I hear the sad stories every day...it's nice to hear a good one.

  6. You brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.

  7. What a blessing! Have a great week!

  8. This is so sweet! My grandmother is showing early (well, not so early anymore..) signs of dementia but no one will diagnose her and she is in denial. This gives me hope!!! Thanks for sharing.

  9. that brought tears to my eyes