I pulled into a vacant spot in the parking lot that was shaded over by a large tree. Before I left my car to enter the mall, I checked my phone. I’d almost forgotten that I’d texted my mom to see how my grandmother’s neurologist appointment had gone.

“It’s Alzheimer’s.” My mom had texted back.

My car felt impenetrable by the sun’s warm rays. I sat frozen, staring at my phone’s screen, trying to figure out the most appropriate way to react. I considered blowing off my shopping plans and just bawling my eyes out in my car. I wanted to. I was devastated. But I talked myself out of it. It seemed too dramatic. After all, we’d known this was coming.

We had known since the first time we’d visited my grandparents in their condo and discovered that they were virtually living off of frozen pizzas. My grandmother hadn’t cooked a meal in ages.

We’d known when my grandfather called and reported nervously that my grandmother was acting strange. She was asking where her father was, certain he had just been in the living room with them. She couldn’t seem to understand that her father had died on another continent decades ago.

We’d known at Christmas because my grandmother had gotten confused. She’d asked my older cousin Francy where her mother was. Francy’s parents had been divorced since she was a young child.

We’d known on account of the family history. Her sister was already going down this dark journey.

In a way, I suspect I always knew my grandmother would end up with Azheimer’s, somehow. I’d known it from the very first day she explained this wretched disease to me herself. I was 4. Since that day, I had always anticipated and dreaded this very day. This moment.

In my car, still staring at the black screen of my cellphone, I convinced myself that a lifetime of expectation rendered crying unwarranted. I wanted to talk about it, but I felt like I had no one to talk to. I didn’t want to upset my mom further. A lot of my friends had already lost grandparents. They’d died. This didn’t seem quite on par with death, of course. It just felt like my entire world was crumbling.

But life surely went on. My life. My grandmother’s life. The life of my entire family has continued in spite of the diagnosis. Since then, I have succumbed to the tears. I’ve reveled in anger. These are natural and acceptable behaviours, I’ve learned. But since then, I have also laughed with my grandmother. I’ve made new memories. I’ve traveled with her. The diagnosis certainly was not on par with death.

My grandmother is still living, and she is still herself at her very core. She has lost most of her verbal communication skills at this point, but she’s still her. She still lights up when she realizes I’ve entered the room. She still scowls in disapproval if I’ve painted my nails in a colour she doesn’t like.

She’s still the woman who raised me. The woman a owe a great deal of my character to. I am the strong woman I am because of the strong woman she is.

2016

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56 thoughts on “The Diagnosis

  1. These are the moments we all dread. I have no grandmother, or mother come to that. It is me who might find myself in this dreaded situation. I look for the signs every time I forget something or feel unsure of where I am. I pray it will give me a miss, for I couldn’t bear to be a burden to my family…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I only realized this earlier this year. For a long time I had feared my grandmother getting it, and then my mom, and now finally, it has hit me that one day it could be me too. But hopefully medical technology advances before then.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This story resonates with me. I just got news from my dad today that my mom, who had undergone extensive chemotherapy for breast/lung cancer in 2013, has cancer again. Not the best way to wake up in the morning to that news, but she’s fighting with another round of chemo, which will take the next few months. It’s important to be there for loved ones and knowing that, whatever the outcome, there will always be love. ❀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My mother died 20 years ago after suffering from Alzheimer’s for 10+ years, during most of which I took care of her in my (& my wife’s) home. Most of those years, she still had a reasonably good quality of life, but toward the end….

    Recalling those memories now makes me cry. Life can be beautiful and yet so cruel and unfair.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She’s my favourite. Just today, I painted my nails her favourite colour in an attempt to get comfort as I begin a new stage in my life.

      Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

      Like

    1. She’s still around, which I am incredibly grateful for. I saw her yesterday, and she was more lucid than I’ve seen her in months. It just makes those moments more special.

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a heart wrenching story, but I smiled at the part where your grandmother frowns when she doesn’t like your nail color.:-) I can relate to your story because my dad has Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s . . . it just sucks.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My grandmother has always been rather opinionated. That the kind characteristic that you carry with you forever.

      I’m sorry about your dad too. It really is a devastating disease at times.

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. (like)

    I heard that, with Alzheimer’s, you grieve twice. My father had it and that statement is very true. When he passed away last year, his mind was pretty much gone… glimmers, though, of himself would peep out. He DID know us (my brother and sister-in-law). He didn’t know why he was in a home, though… Sadly, he didn’t seem to care at that point.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is so true that you grieve twice. In different ways.

      I’m sorry about your father. He sounds a lot like my grandmother right now. She recognizes us still, but she has no idea she’s now living with my parents. It’s tough.

      Thanks for sharing and thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This made me feel like crying too. Its perfectly fine to cry and feel so sad. Facing the fact of degenerative changes is not pleasant, especially when affecting someone who means a lot to you, but life is life and it goes the way it does. These things can be a powerful reminder of how much we love another. That is one positive you can take away from this. ❀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading! It’s hard to deal with at times, but it’s comforting to know that so many of us have shared experiences. That sense of community is the best part about blogging!

      Like

  7. Such a dreadful disease. My grandmother had it for many years. We sure learn many lessons as caregivers. How to love unconditionally and when it’s really difficult to do so. I wish y’all the best and many smiles and laughs. Sometimes you may as well laugh as cry.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I love this post. Alzheimer’s is an illness but the core of the person remains even with such strange symptoms. My beloved mother in law died 16 years after her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. She went through all the phases – denial, anger, hostility, acceptance and finally stillness. Through all that, I could still see her and loved when she smiled. She was a kind, loving woman who had an illness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this. Everything you said was 100% accurate to my experience thus far. I gotta say, it hurt a little bit more when she was more aware of her illness. Now that she’s a bit past that, her smiles seem more genuine, her happiness more pure.

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is the time she needs the entire family the most. I know you all can get through this. I can sense the love and compassion even from a far. Your family raised you well.

    May God bless you with the strength and courage through this tough time.

    Liked by 2 people

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