Today is my grandmother’s birthday. She is 93. Wow. She has lived to see almost a whole century, and what a century it has been! So many changes, improvements, set-backs, joys, and sorrows! Baby (as we call her… long story) has survived the odds and lived to see her 93rd birthday. She has survived her parents, siblings, husband, and even a daughter. I am so proud to have such a strong woman to look up to.
Today, Baby is suffering the effects of Alzheimers. She can remember who you are for about 5 minutes, at which point she will ask you again. (Though she always remembers Jamie, she says its the demples!). She cannot remember that her beloved husband has died, or that her only daughter also passed a few years ago (that knowledge would surely cause so much grief that she would die of a broken heart). She often thinks that her son (my dad) is her husband, and then asks for money, haha. When she hears any news of the current war, her mind automatically goes back to WW2 and she worries for her husbands safety. He was a fighter pilot. Her mind cannot hold onto the time, and she slips between childhood, adulthood, and some other world. But in her prime, she was something to behold.
She was the quintessential officer’s wife. She could charm a room, delight guests, and throw a party to remember. Her doors were always open and her smile never stopped. (Even still she smiles, perhaps because of sweet memories only she can know) She was always up for a good joke, and her home was impecibly clean. She loved her children without restraint. She had worked so hard for them, waiting years before they were finally given into her loving arms. And she loved her husband.
And it is thier devotion that really inspires me. They always went everywhere together. Even in the nursing home, he would never go to a meal without Baby. He would wait for her as long as it took, and would shuffle down the hall with her. In the days before my grandfather died, you could see the concern he had for his beloved. His mind was so sharp, but his body was failing him. He could see that Baby’s mind was slipping, and he knew that he couldn’t take care of her forever. He would ask time and time again about the balance of thier accounts to make sure that Baby had what she needed to be comfortable. The day that he died was the most remarkable. He had been in bed unable to move or eat for about 2 weeks. But that morning, he got out of bed, dressed, shaved, and accompanied Baby to breakfast. They ate thier meal together, and shuffled back to thier room together. They sat down in thier matching chairs, and he died. He needed to have that one last meal with his beloved wife. He knew it was the end, and he wanted her to remember him as strong.
I don’t know how much longer I have with my grandmother. She is so strong, but her mind is so weak. I have learned a lot from her. I can only hope that I can pass as much knowledge onto the next generations.
[I had a really awesome picture of my grandparents when they were young… but this silly computer won’t let me upload it. So just use your imagination]