An Afternoon With My Grandma

As a little girl I remember my mom taking my sister and I to Mississippi to see her mom. AKA my Grandma Billie. I loved hanging out with her. She was the fun Grandma. She would take us to yard sales, let us watch the movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and even go visit her friends. My favorite memory was when she would take us on her newspaper route. As a 7-year-old, I would be in the backseat of her little red truck, rolling up newspapers and wrapping them with rubber bands. My Grandma would then throw the papers onto porches. She could land them in the exact spot every time. But I had to get out often to put them on porches. Mostly because when I threw the papers they would land next to the truck or bounce off a random object. I thought she had the coolest job in the world. She was so interesting to spend time with. Now I’m 28 and my Grandma is no longer like that because she has dementia. During our visit to Mississippi this week, I went to see my Grandma twice. She is now in an assistant living facility. A nice place with sweet people, but to my Grandma it’s a prison. Her own mind is a prison. I sat there looking at the woman with a great arm, struggle to chew her food. The Grandma who used to dance with me, slowly walk across a room with a lack purpose. During our visit we went outside in the courtyard. There was a water fountain my nieces were playing in. My Grandma walked over there and started playing with the girls. I snapped a few pictures because for just a few moments she forgot where she was and smiled. That was the face I remembered. When she was heading back to her chair I grabbed her hand to help her walk around some rose bushes. She stood there a few minutes just holding my hand like a little girl. I didn’t want her to let go. Because I didn’t know if she would even know me the next time I saw her. Side note: At this point my grandma has mini emotional seizures. The doctor calls them that because they’re not real seizures. But when she gets overwhelmed or upset she starts moving like she’s having one. At this point we don’t know if she is doing it on purpose or if it’s emotionally driven. At the end of our visit I walked her back to her room. She opened the door and started crying. She had an emotional seizure earlier and was trying to explain to me what happened. She couldn’t tell me. All she could do was cry. That’s when she said it was all the physical abuse from her second husband that causes her to be like this. She felt hopeless and confused. In that moment I wrapped her in my arms. My grandma stood there crying on my shoulder like a child. A scared child who wanted to understand. To be loved and comforted. I sat next to her on the couch and she had another emotional seizure. I slowly talked her through it. I stroked her softly and offered support. Sadly, I had to leave after that. I sat there a few more minutes before I left. Trying to distract her from the overwhelming emotions. All the while trying to hold back tears of my own. I gave her one last hug and walked out of her room. Closing her door was one of the hardest things for me. As I walked down the hall to the lobby…I started wondering if that would be the last time I would see her? Will she know me when I come back for another visit in a few months? My emotions flooded my mind and I began weeping. Thinking how unfair this was. How I just wanted to rescue her in some way. But I knew this was the safest place for her to be. That visit was a reminder of how precious family and people are. It’s not about things, it’s not about big houses and fancy cars. It’s about the legacy you leave behind. The love you give to others. The small moments that can leave a lasting memory for everyone involved. I’m scared that maybe one day my mom will have dementia. Or even I will. It really opens your eyes to what really matters. It opens your eyes to how hard it is on them. I couldn’t imagine what she is going through. Soon, I will be making some big changes in my life. I will reveal them in the upcoming weeks. But seeing my grandmother like that makes me so thankful that I’m taking more time with family. That I’m pouring love into others instead of worrying about what item I can buy for my home. My heart goes out to those who have parents, grandparents or other family members with Dementia or Alzheimer. It’s a cruel way to end life. It’s tough on everyone. I pray for joyful moments for you guys in the midst of heartache. Celebrate the good days. Don’t focus on the bad days. Most importantly, love them the best you can. Visit them often and never forget that you may be them in the future. Be respectful and ask God to help you show grace.

One thought on “An Afternoon With My Grandma

  1. Patti Flippen says:

    That is beautiful! I can relate so well. Dementia is cruel and affects everyone involved, not just the person who has it. Thank you for the encouraging words at the end. I, too, am going through difficult days with my mother, as is everyone in our family. I needed the reminder to be patient and focus on the good. Praying for you!

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