Note: This is a story about my Grandma Eileen who was entering the late stages of Alzheimer’s. After reflecting on the sadness of the disease, I was finally able to put a positive, light-hearted, and sometimes funny angle on what is such a devastating process.
Grandma Eileen and Grandpa Jim were in Indianapolis for the summer. I felt that Grandma needed to get out of the house for a little while, so I took her with me to run a few errands. Because her knees often hurt due to surgeries after falling off a horse in her youth, it was quite a battle getting her into my SUV. But after what seemed like hours of maneuvering and adjusting, we were buckled up and off to the bank.
To avoid the grueling process of getting in and out of the car, I decided to opt for drive-thru banking. As I was explaining my transaction to the teller, I heard the ding sound that signals a car door ajar. I looked over to my passenger, and yes, she was making a break for it! I inquired as to where she was going, and with an “isn’t it obvious” tone in her voice, Grandma replied: “I’m going to the bank.” Now, far be it from me to hold her back from doing her imaginary personal banking, as I’m pretty sure she did not hold an account at that banking institution, nor any other one for that matter. But I explained that I was working with the teller, and we didn’t even need to get out of the car; how convenient! She was delighted with the concept and closed the car door.
After the bank, I stopped to get a bagel and told Grandma that she could sit in the car while I went inside. I asked if she was hungry and she responded, “Sure.” Always so agreeable when it comes to food or drink, I thought. It must run in the family. But then I asked what kind of bagel she wanted. Blueberry? Salt? Plain? With light cream cheese? Butter? Or toasted? I waited for at least three minutes. Finally, she asked politely for “a round one.” As opposed to the ever popular, but far less tasty, triangular shaped bagels? I did hear that the octagonal bagel was making a comeback, and quite a treat, I thought. But she decided to stick with the original round bagel! You have to appreciate that kind of answer after so much consideration!
Have you ever been able to appreciate a light-hearted moment while coping with ongoing grief?