This beautiful lady, Eudora (Dora) is my grandmother.  She has Alzheimer’s.  She turned 85 on the 17th of August this year and, in the past two weeks, her mobility has decreased to very little, her speech is slurred and she sleeps much of the time.  She can barely lift her chin from her chest.  It is a change from the agitation and anger of the past couple of months, she is quiet and gentle at the moment, but her sudden deterioration is shocking and sad.  She is in pain this afternoon, itching and aching everywhere, but she still finds the energy sometimes to make a well-meaning joke or to smile and whisper “You’re so lovely” when I put my arms around her.  When she scratches at her wrists, we slather them with antihistamine cream.  When she fusses at her new chiffon skirt, we say how pretty it looks and what a lovely colour it is.  When she reaches out shakily, we hold her hand.  We treat this version of my grandma as tenderly as we always have done, as tenderly as she has always treated us.  But this is not the only version of her that has existed.  She was a devoted R.A.F. wife.  An adoring mother.  A secretary.  A greengrocer, loved by her customers.  An aunt.  A great-aunt.  Grandmother and great-grandmother.  A church member.  A carer.  A friend.  A sister.  Loving, generous, wise, fair, firm and funny.  She and my grandfather, Ralph, also pictured, whom we lost a year ago, gave us all of the love we could have asked for.  It was unconditional and immovable.  Alzheimer’s is cruel and real, but it does not define my grandma.  She had a rich, full life and she has taught me more than I could tell you.  In accepting the version of her I know today, I also remember the Dora of years gone by–the firmness, the playfulness, the tenderness, the vivacity, the love.  We are so lucky to have had her to care for us for all of these years.  Now she deserves only the best in return.

About Louise

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