Dementia And Acceptance Of What Is

On the way up to Waskesiu on Sunday, my parents and I stopped off at the care home where both my grandparents are now living since their dementia has become more pronounced.

grandma 2

I had not seen them since when they still remembered who I was, and that was not that long ago. It was only last Christmas when I held my grandfather's hand while he told me how hard it was to be on the outside looking in at what seemed like chaos. That day, my grandmother was the well one, the one who tied his shoelaces for him and made sure he took his medication.

When I saw them on Sunday, my grandmother was no longer quite sure who I was. She has small strokes now and has gone blind in her left eye. It was strange to see her slowly lifting food to her mouth. There was a piece of cheese stuck to her shirt.

She visibly brightened and laughed with us, though, once we took her upstairs to see my grandfather. My grandfather, on the other hand, sat in a stupor. He's just been started on anti-psychotics to deal with some aggressive behaviour. He shifted in his chair and looked off into the middle distance.

It's easy to fall into eeyore-ish, woe-is-me thinking, to think So, this is what I have coming to me, then, like right now doesn't matter if we only forget it all in the end.

In clearer moments, though, my grandfather hooks his arm through my grandmother's and tells people that she is his sweetheart. What the mind forgets, the heart remembers.

In a rather different turn of events, one of my great aunts is 104 years old, and she's fallen in love with a man. She didn't know that this could still happen to her, but it did.

She was born in the first decade of the last century. That astounds me. She has been around through two world wars and several more, and almost everyone in her peer group was already dead twenty years ago. The world could have worn her out by now, but it hasn't. There's still romance in it for her.

It doesn't seem right that some get to keep both their minds and their hearts, while others must have the aggression drugged out of them. When I saw my grandparents, I had to let go of the part of me that wanted to make sense of why my great aunt and not them. There is no balance of justice in the universe. There's just is.

This happened to them. That happened her. Neither situation is fair. They just are.

I'm still a five-year-old who wants things to be fair. I still want to be rewarded for doing good work, for completing the course, for sticking out the tough stuff. I want to discover riches of the world and of the spirit, not adult diapers and a healthy dose of Respirdol.

Acceptance of what is is the hardest lesson, especially when what is for my grandfather is a sweatshirt that velcroes up the back and a bib at mealtimes.

I just want things to be fair, dammit.