Though I can’t think of anyone I know personally, symptoms I’ve often been shocked by characters in movies and songs who have walked away from loved ones who are ill. You know, generic the ones who leave their wife battling MS, here their child struggling with addiction, their elderly parent dying of cancer…
While I don’t sympathize with them, I’m beginning to have much more compassion for their struggles than I did before.
In the past four months, we have watched a transformation in my grandma the likes of which I’ve only seen before on screen. Whether it’s the dementia or depression or both, my sweet, loving, wouldn’t-say-shit-if-her-mouth-was-full-of-it, grandmother has turned into an aggressive, outspoken woman who will (and has) give(n) most everyone a very blunt piece of her mind whether requested or not.
Until this winter, I can’t recall grandma raising her voice in anger. But I won’t soon forget her altercation with the lady who unknowingly sat in g-ma’s friend’s chair at lunch. You would have thought that woman had committed a cardinal sin for the tongue-lashing Grandma gave her. And it almost resulted in my formerly mild-mannered grandma being kicked out of the retirement home.
She has always been the type to lead by example rather than preach with words. Grandma has never smoked, never drank, never cussed, and though my brothers and I are all guilty of at least 2 out of 3 of those, she would never call us out on our bad habits. That certainly has changed as she now takes advantage of every opportunity to instruct us on cleaning up our acts.
As her memory worsens, so too does her frustration with herself and those around her. Twice in the past week she has gotten very upset at us “not having visited her in WEEKS” – hardly a day goes by that at least one of the family doesn’t get in to see her. And let me tell you, trying to reassure an angry old lady that you have not forgotten her, and were actually there the day before and will be back the day after tomorrow, well let’s just suffice to say it’s a losing battle.
Never will I turn my back on the woman who helped raise me, who has been the unwavering matron of our family, who I’ve come to call my friend in adulthood. But I certainly have a more open heart for anyone who has walked through a door to realize the person they used to know on the other side, is no longer there.