Well, these past few days have been especially difficult for me. Last Thursday at 6:45am, my mother called to tell me that my beloved grandmother had passed away. My grandma Della was 87 years old, in a nursing home and was in the final stages of alzheimers. I have to agree with those that think it is a blessing that the Lord took her now. Regardless, that does not make it any easier when I think of all the memories she left me with.
Some of my fondest memories are those with grandma Della in them. I can remember back to the summers when I would get to spend the night at her house. She and my grandfather would take me to the park where we could ride the train, the carosel and the little mini metal cars. Then the next morning, there would always be a walk to the donut shop just down the street where I always got donut-holes and grandma always got her cake donuts to go with her morning coffee.
As I got older, my brother and I would spend hours sitting at grandma's dining room table playing an array of different card games. Games such as SkipBo, Uno and Dallas. For those of you not familiar with the game of Dallas - it is a card game designed after the famous soap-opera "Dallas." Grandma was quite competitive during those many games - and so were my brother and I. We could literally sit there all afternoon and play those games.
Not long after those years, came my teenage years. Things got a lot busier for me and I wasn't able to spend as much time sitting at grandma's playing cards. Instead stock shows, band, work and boys took up the majority of my time. However, I would still find some time to stop by and talk with grandma. We would just talk about things going at school, work and of course my boyfriends. It was during these years that my grandmother and I became confidants and friends.
Like most mother-daughter relationships, during my teenage years my mother and I did not see eye-to-eye. Well, grandma Della was who I would go and tell everything too. She would often tell me that she had no idea why my mother was being the way she was. lol. And then, she would tell me stories from when she and her mother went through similiar situations. She would also tell me stories about my mother as a teenager. I learned a lot about how my grandmother was when she was younger during these talks. I learned that she and I shared many personality traits. Most importantly, during these years I came to recognize and appreciate how much my grandmother loved me.
When I went to college, grandma Della and I would keep in touch by writing lengthy letters to each other. Not just here and there, but often weekly. During my sophomore year in college, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. The suddenness of it all caused my grandmother to have mini-strokes and sped up the Alzheimers process. She soon had to be moved to an apartment complex for senior citizens and shortly after that we began having to have a nurse come out and make sure she was taking her medications. It got so bad that within a year and a half after my grandfather passed away, that we had to put her in a nursing home. By this time, my grandmother was unable to continue writing letters to me - however, I continued to write to her.
As time went on, the trips to visit grandma at the nursing home became harder because Alzheimers made it difficult, and eventually impossible, for her to have a normal conversation with us. That's really when I began to lose the grandmother I had known. Although there were times when I would see that familiar sparkle in her eyes showing a hint of laughter. She eventually had to be moved from the general nursing home to the Alzheimers unit when the disease got to bad. By this time, she didn't remember who I was, which was hard - but although she couldn't remember who I was you could tell that she knew I was someone close. The few times I brought my son out with me to visit, she always wanted to hold him - and back when he was first born, and she held him he just layed in her arms and smiled at her while she tried to sing lullabies to him.
My grandmother was an important part of my life and she will be missed dearly. I am sad that my son and future children will never know her as I did, but all I can do is tell them as much about her as possible. And one day, when I become a grandmother myself, I can strive to create the lasting wonderful memories with my grandchildren that my grandmother helped create with me. It is a blessing that God did not leave her to suffer with Alzheimers long, just 6 years, and I know that one day I will see her again. Until then, she will remain in my heart full of memories.