November 4 09

One of the BEST things about living in Atlanta is that I have access to the passcode-protected wing of Arbor Terrace to visit with my Grandma and hold her hand and try to make her laugh or smile to eat or drink or notice me at all through the stupid disease that has taken her mind and is now taking her body as well. I don’t have to rely on a phone call update from a family to member to see how she’s doing.

One of the WORST things about living in Atlanta is that I have access to the passcode-protected wing of Arbor Terrace to visit with my Grandma and hold her hand and try to make her laugh or smile to eat or drink or notice me at all through the stupid disease that has taken her mind and is now taking her body as well. I don’t have to rely on a phone call update from a family to member to see how she’s doing.

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A double-edged sword, really.

Sometimes a phone call update is just easier.

It’s easier than having to hear your dad on the phone with hospice discussing her refusal to eat or drink anything and the kidney failure that is clearly right around the corner.

It’s easier than having to meet the rabbi to make arrangements. ARRANGEMENTS. When you live in another country, you don’t worry about making arrangements.

It’s easier than having to be the one to help  remove the sweater from your grandmother’s bony body so that she can have a flu shot. It’s easier than watching her scream out in pain when the needle enters her body.

It’s easier than spending 45 minutes holding her hand in the hopes that she will squeeze it just once.

It’s easier than being the one to celebrate her taking three bites of birthday cake. or having to help fold her laundry and see that the clothing sizes are dropping…8, 6, 4…wasting away.

AND YET.

I am thankful for the days that I can get her to smile. I am thankful for the days that I can get that little squeeze. I am thankful for the days that she looks at one of my kids and I can catch a tiny glimpse of a spark of recognition in her eye before they glass over. I am thankful for the moments of lucidity amongst the gibberish.

I am thankful for moments like these.

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Because I don’t know how many more there will be.

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  1. i am sure your grandma is glad to have you in atlanta.

    that last picture is a good one.

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    Comment by sweet cheek's mom on November 4, 2009
  2. You’re a great grand-daughter and your dad must be so proud and thankfull you can be there to help out and be close!

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    Comment by Sarah on November 4, 2009
  3. Oh friend. I am so very sorry! But, I am so glad that life brought you back to Atlanta to be there with her.

    Many, many hugs!

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    Comment by sam {temptingmama} on November 4, 2009
  4. Oh Ali,

    This made me cry. I’m STILL crying. I am heartbroken for you. I hate that you too are dealing with the suck that is Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately I know it too well. I am here for you. And I am thinking of your family and your grammy.

    The world can’t afford to lose anymore grammys.

    Alzheimer’s sucks balls. Feel free to quote me.

    Love you girl.

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    Comment by Shauna on November 4, 2009
  5. Ali, I am so sorry. Those pictures are so touching, and I just ache for you. I am glad to have you here for selfish reasons, but I am sad that it’s hard for you.

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    Comment by Brittany on November 4, 2009
  6. Ali, I’m so sorry. I totally understand what you mean about being there and not being there.

    My grandmother is going through the exact same thing and I hate being far away while she has so little time left.. but in some ways, I am relieved I don’t have to be there.

    It’s the worst. {{HUGS}}

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    Comment by ClassyFabSarah on November 4, 2009
  7. Ali, I lost my grandfather in March and I was very fortunate that the last time I saw him was a peaceful, happy encounter. My heart goes out to you because I cannot imagine being in the position you’re in. I know it would be devastating.

    A lot of us feel a pressure to be irreverent and funny on our blogs, but it’s okay to be a “downer.” And for the record, I don’t think this is a downer. You’re just sharing your experience and dude, we’re here to listen through thick and thin.

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    Comment by Maria on November 4, 2009
  8. What a beautiful woman your Grandmother is! I know how hard this can be, but I’m glad you are living near her now and can spend time with her. These times can be hard, but they are treasures. I agree with Maria. This isn’t necessarily a downer. This is life. Sometimes we have to laugh, and sometimes we have to tear up.

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    Comment by foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog) on November 4, 2009
  9. This disease took my wonderful grandfather. I’m so sorry. I know it’s hard.
    .-= amy2boys´s last blog ..Stuff That Won’t Be On My Christmas List =-.

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    Comment by amy2boys on November 4, 2009
  10. I know exactly where you’re coming from: http://www.avitable.com/2009/0.....lzheimers/

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    Comment by Avitable on November 4, 2009
  11. Oh Ali, I’m so sorry.

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    Comment by katie ~ motherbumper on November 4, 2009
  12. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother. My grandma died last December after 3 years of battling the same disease.

    It is heart breaking, hard, and you cry in the parking lot because she is a shell of the person she used to be. All that I can say is cherish those moments when you are with her, take pictures, tell stories and laugh. In the end you want her to at least hear the laughter even if she doesn’t understand what is about!

    Being an adult sucks sometimes though and this is one of those times.

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    Comment by Kate on November 4, 2009
  13. You are super fortunate to have the little moments with her, no matter how fleeting.

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    Comment by Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] on November 4, 2009
  14. That sucks.

    And in a good way it sucks.
    .-= William´s last blog ..Monster Squad =-.

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    Comment by William on November 4, 2009
  15. i’m sorry Ali about your nan.i’m sorry that the kindest thing i can think of to say to you is that yes cherish those lucid moments she has…xo

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    Comment by LAVENDULA on November 4, 2009
  16. I’m sorry about your grandma. I had an uncle with Alzheimer’s, so I have seen it first hand. It’s so sad.

    But I’m glad that you’re in Atlanta so you can spend this time with her. Even if she doesn’t remember you. I think it is good for all of you.

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    Comment by Kristabella on November 4, 2009
  17. I came across your blog from Shauna Glenn’s Twitter page. I, too, know how much this disease sucks. My father passed away in March of this year at age 64. You are such a brave woman and I totally know what you’re going through! I’m sure she loves spending time with you and loves to see your smiling face.

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    Comment by Megan Patram on November 4, 2009
  18. It’s never easy to watch a loved one fade away, whether close by or long distance. You’re doing the right thing by being there to help her. Hang in there.

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    Comment by feefifoto on November 4, 2009
  19. Take it from someone who remained away while this happened: ultimately, you will be grateful you’re there, as hard as it is, because not being there sucks.

    ((HUGS))

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    Comment by SciFi Dad on November 4, 2009
  20. Having worked in a facility much like the one you’re talking about, on of the saddest things in the world is seeing the pain on the faces of the families that come and aren’t recognized…but only slightly more sadder are the blank faces of the people whose families DON’T come. You are a blessing to your family and to all of us. XOXOXOX

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    Comment by Anissa@FreeAnissa on November 4, 2009
  21. I’m so sorry for what you are going through. I hope that you start to feel better soon. Keep visiting your grandma, don’t ever stop. This is the time when she needs you the most.
    .-= Cassie´s last blog ..Lazy Ass =-.

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    Comment by Cassie on November 4, 2009
  22. So nicely said Ali. I actually lost my maternal grandmother to that awful disease this past winter. Just remember all the good times, I know my Nanny was a fountain of them for me.

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    Comment by corinne on November 4, 2009
  23. This was not a downer at all. What a beautiful, loving tribute to your grandmother! Thank you for sharing – I was so touched!
    .-= Jane´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday – Almost In My Backyard =-.

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    Comment by Jane on November 4, 2009
  24. It is hard. We’re going through something similar with my grandmother. My kids have no memories of the incredible vibrant woman I knew. Makes me a little sad.
    .-= Jack´s last blog ..Let Them Breathe =-.

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    Comment by Jack on November 4, 2009
  25. I’m all teary, Ali.

    Loved this. And love you.

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    Comment by Angella on November 4, 2009
  26. I understand.
    And you will be glad you were close by for all the suckitude…
    .-= LibraryGirl62´s last blog ..A quick one counts, right? =-.

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    Comment by LibraryGirl62 on November 4, 2009
  27. She’s so beautiful and you are a wonderful grand daughter!

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    Comment by Dina on November 4, 2009
  28. Great GREAT post. No other words. ((Hugs))

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    Comment by Haley-O (Cheaty) on November 4, 2009
  29. I’m sorry that your grand-mother’s health is not well. I’m sure it is very helpful for your father that you are there. As well, you know that you are making a difference.

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    Comment by Heather on November 5, 2009
  30. We went through this with my grandma too, but I was too young to really appreciate what was happening. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that way. So sorry Ali.

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    Comment by slynnro on November 5, 2009
  31. So, between ChickyChicky’s blog & yours, I’m a puddle this morning. Just wanted to send you hugs. It was similar with my aunt, although, it was due to multiple strokes that made her lose her speech. However, I still treasure every moment I had with her, looking in to her wise blue eyes and remembering the woman she was. I admire you, for even though it’s hard, you’re still seeing her, you’re still helping when plenty of others wouldn’t. I am so sorry you have had this card dealt to you.

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    Comment by Spring B on November 5, 2009
  32. Sorry things are so tough right now. Glad that you are able to spend some good time with your grandmother too.

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    Comment by Secret Mom Thoughts on November 5, 2009
  33. I went through a similar process with my mother; in my own way, I relate to this post very much.

    My heart goes out to you, my friend. If you ever need to talk, or vent or bitch or whatever…I’m always here.

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    Comment by mamatulip on November 5, 2009
  34. I’m so sorry that you’re having to go through this. I think in the long run, the double edged(?) sword will land on the “positive” side and you’ll be glad that you were there. Even on the days when she didn’t squeeze your hand.

    It’s times like these that help us to appreciate our loved ones. Even when they (or us) aren’t having some of their better moments.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Karen Chatters on November 5, 2009
  35. I go through the same thing with my grandfather. I’m one of the only members of my family that visits him. Yes, it’s hard, extremely hard, to see him like that, not remembering who I am…but I need to.

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    Comment by Bethany on November 6, 2009
  36. Oh Ali this is so bittersweet. Hugs to you. xoxo

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    Comment by Karen Sugarpants on November 6, 2009
  37. hugs, chica.

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    Comment by Aimee Greeblemonkey on November 6, 2009
  38. So sorry you are going through this, but know for sure you are being given a gift. You never know what and when she recognizes you, and most importantly, you are there. No regrets…you have been there! This will help you heal as you say the long goodbye. But yes, it sucks.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Susan from PA on November 9, 2009
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