My grandma, Miss Rose’s great grandma, is a very special lady. Growing up she was actively involved in mine and my brother’s childhood taking us swimming, roller skating, and to feed ducks at the park. Since I hit puberty she has regularly informed me that I am her best shot for great grandchildren in her lifetime so I had better get a wiggle on. Indeed, when I was 19, she told me that if I didn’t hurry up and get married I would “grow over”. I was both horrified at the image and struggling to find a way of letting her know I had tamed the one eyed snake long ago and therefore unlikely to suffer that particularly disturbing fate.
As time has gone by the fog of Alzheimer’s has fallen across my grandma’s eyes and we have started to lose her in the mist. She regularly forgets who we are, has no memory of what she has done one day to the next, and seems in a perpetual state of confusion. It is incredibly sad. She was a force of nature, playing golf and tennis into her 80’s, competing successfully at bridge, and generally powering through life with us all in her wake. A matriarch of a large family and loving it. The frail, grey skinned, confused woman hunched in a corner of her large living room is not the woman I grew up knowing and I don’t fully know how to handle that.
One thing I have always insisted upon is that no matter whether she remembers it or not I want her to be involved in Miss Rose’s life. I hauled my vast pregnant self into hospital regularly to visit her after she had a fall, took her scan photos, and kept her updated on everything. Through the haze we saw life and not only did she remember I was having a baby, she remembered the name
Rose. She doesn’t know my name most of the time but Miss Rose struck a cord. Admittedly every time she said “baby Rose” she followed it with “I don’t much care for the name, it’s dreadfully old fashioned” but that’s fine, we had a glimpse of grandma and that was worth every second.
Since her birth I have taken Miss Rose to my grandma’s home several times. I have lots of photos of Miss Rose with her great grandma that she will be able to see as she grows up and listen to stories of the dynamic woman her great grandma was. Grandma seems to benefit greatly, however briefly, from these visits.
She has taken a turn for the worse. She seems to get smaller, thinner, every time we visit. Her tiny clothes drown her, and her eyes seem to focus on little. We are planning a visit today and I am very aware this could be the last time we see her. Miss Rose and I managed to pick up some plague from playgroup and are pouring snot, sneezing like gunshots, and generally disgusting. If we go and expose grandma to these germs it could be the end. If we don’t go we could miss out on seeing her one last time.
If we go and she dies tomorrow I will be crushed by guilt, if we don’t go and she dies tomorrow I will be crushed by heartbreak.
I want to see my grandma, I want Miss Rose to see her great grandma, and mostly I want my grandma to have one last moment of clarity and enjoy seeing her great granddaughter again.
So what should I do? I genuinely don’t know.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!