Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Personal Stuff

My son heard me drop an F-bomb this evening.

My sister called. My 90-year-old grandmother was in the emergency room, incoherent and unresponsive.

My son understood.

I met my dad and sister at the hospital. My uncle showed up a little later.

I've posted about nana before. She has Alzheimers now, and has been in a home for over 3 years. It used to be that she didn't seem aware of her surroundings but could still speak intelligibly; now it all sounds like incoherent babble.

Apparently she was incoherent, completely out of it, when they got to the hospital today, but this evening she started babbling a little again. My sister listened and was able to make out a few words.

Bill. All died. Four of us. Baby Bill. Always had food.

My sister didn't know it, but she was translating. You see, I know those words. I know the story they belong to. What we've long thought was babbling was actually nana's continuing to tell the same stories I've heard hundreds of times growing up.

She was the second of four children. Her only brother, Bill, was the youngest. Their father died in a coal mining accident when she was young. Her mother raised them on a widow's pension, supplemented by doing seamstress work in the neighborhood. They were poor, but they always had enough food.

My sister would say the few words she could understand, and I'd tell her what part of the story nana was telling. My sister would repeat it to nana, who would say, "Yeah." I augmented what she was saying, telling my sister the stories nana used to tell me about growing up in England during the Depression. My sister would ask about certain details, and nana would reply, "Yeah."

I've heard that with Alzheimers, you eventually regress back to childhood. Maybe that's where nana is now, back in England as a happy, young, fatherless girl.

Just in case, I was composing a eulogy on my way to the hospital. I'm thankful that right now it seems that I won't have to use it for awhile.


teacher can i said...

Wow. I'm sorry to hear this. Thankfully, she has you and your family to look out for her. It is always difficult to lose a family memeber. But you have not yet, try to enjoy the days that you still have and look back on the good days that you've already shared. Pleasant memories always bring smiles to our face, even in bad times.

Mrs. C said...

I'm sorry. I'm glad it's comforting to know she is surrounded by family by her bedside as well as in her rememberings. Don't forget to write some of those memories down for others to remember! Something constructive to do that will be treasured later.

MikeAT said...

Spotter, my prayers are with you and yours man.

God bless and take care....

Mr. W said...

My grandfather passed away 3 years ago (from cancer) and he became delusional at the end too. I remember walking with him on his farm we were talking about normal stuff and then he said "I didn't kill them Kevin, I didn't they think I did but I know I didn't" And then like 1 minute later he came back. We figured that he was talking about something that happened during WWII, which he fought in.

It's a tough time to watch your loved ones go through this. I am truly sorry for you and I will keep your grandmother in my prayers.

There is always a moment of clarity that they will remember everything and everyone around them. Be there for her.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to read about your nana. I recently lost my father (90) and my mother-in-law (78) and know what it feels to go down this road.
Dad didn't have demintia, but my mother-in-law did and it was hard at the end to look at a non-responsive person.
Remember the good times, and the memories written on your heart.
Take care and God bless you and yours.

allen (in Michigan) said...

My condolences. It is tough.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I really hate to hear about your nana. I hope she recovers. During our conversation I felt I got to know your nana and I know she is special to you. Here's hoping she recovers fully. I lost my dad and I still am learning to cope. Be strong for your family.

JoeP said...

As a longtime lurker on your board, I'll also offer my condolences. My mother passed away 2.5 years ago after many years of Alzheimers. You are correct in the comment on digressing. In the end, my son and daughter were able to haltingly speak French to her, and that gave her solace. It is a long slow disease, you are fortunate to have family around to comfort. My prayers are with you and yours.
Joe (Maine)

Ellen K said...

Alzheimers has to be the cruelest disease. It robs you of everything that makes you human. And then in the end, you only have the comfort of the past. I wish your family well. It's a terrible disease.

Polski3 said...

My thoughts are with you.

nebraska girl said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. My grandfather is soon to be 94 and we are lucky that he is in amazingly good health. I know we are lucky that he has all his mental faculties, but I end almost every day thankful that I didn't get that phone call that no one wants.