Thursday, January 11, 2007
skip this one if you're already depressed
My grandmother, my mother's mother, is very ill. She has had Alzheimer's disease for a very long time, and her decline has been painful and slow. She developed symptoms before my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. They were fiercely independent and wanted to nurse each other through. It was only towards the end of his battle that they accepted help from family, from hired help, from hospice nurses. He died at home, in the home he was born in. I had a mad impulse to move his hospital bed into the very room he was born in (now a living room) but I was overruled. Still, the night he stopped breathing I could almost feel his mother returning to carry him once more across the threshold of a new life. My grandparents were passionately in love with each other. You could see it in their eyes, whenever they looked at each other, and you could hear it in their voices when they spoke to each other. Any note one left for the other, the simplest grocery list or to-do list, was a love note. He died seven years ago, and for most of those years he was all she ever wanted to talk about. Of course, as AD claimed more and more of her, her conversation became nothing but repetitive questions. But they were all about him. Until the past year or two, when she began to ask about her mother. In her mind, now, I think, she is very young. She remarked once that her mother must have run away from home, because she hadn't seen her in so long. Two days ago she said she wanted to go to heaven to be with her mother. She may get her wish. When I saw her at Christmas she was not very responsive. For the first time ever she fell asleep while I was visiting. Then yesterday she wouldn't wake up when my mother went to visit, and she was having trouble breathing. Now she is on oxygen, and I am waiting to hear from my mother. I don't even know what to hope for. If she is ready to go, to leave this life where she is so very incapacitated, to be with her mother and her husband, then I know that is what I should want for her. But it is hard to hope that someone you love will die.