Where do the Memories Go?

“The most beautiful things are not associated with money; they are memories and moments. If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by.” – Alek Wek

What is it like to see one of the most cherished people in your life slowly lose their memories?  What is it like to have someone who has always been your guiding light, slowly start to dim out?  What is it like to slowly lose someone who saw through your tough exterior and could bring a smile to your face?   And what is it like to have the very person who you called out to upon waking up from surgery, not be there anymore?

These are the questions that go through my head as I see my grandmother or Nana battling Alzheimer’s.  The once feisty and proud woman is now taking it a day at a time, sometimes staring off into the distance as she puts her thoughts together.  I cannot help but look at her doing this and just feel my heart breaking inside.  Never displaying my feelings, I instead try to make a snarky comment or crack a joke to bring a smile to her face.  I admire my grandfather who is always harping at her to take care of herself and do this or that to keep her mind going.  She continues to fire back at him with that same wit we are all accustomed to.  So when those moments happen I take a mental “snapshot” to capture those beautiful memories.  I want to recall these happier moments and see her smile and never forget.

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My Nana is a truly remarkable woman, who would never back down from a challenge.  That includes my often spoiled and cynical self. Even if I tried to pull the “one ear card”, she would always say, “You got to sleep sometime.”  I was a train wreck in middle and high school trying to fit in and was failing freshman and sophomore years of high school.  But she gave me the drive (often by force) to attend night and summer schools to graduate with my class.  And I did graduate. She was right there in that auditorium looking very proud as I walked across the stage.  I felt as if I should have handed her my diploma and said, “here you go, you earned it.” But I could see from the smile on her face, seeing me holding it was enough for her.

I earned that high school diploma because she believed in me and would never let me fail.  There were many nights we would just sit and talk about random stuff or my problems and she would always provide sound advice. And as time went on, I even had the opportunity to work with her at my neighborhood Wal-Mart for almost two years.  Being that I have a foul mouth, I would have to scan over my shoulder anytime I was getting ready to drop an F-bomb.  And like Jason Voorhees, she would be standing there looking down the ice cream aisle and would then let loose on me about using such language.  At the time it was embarrassing, but I dare not fire back, when the little “Colonel” was addressing me.  Those were amazing moments and ones I keep locked away in my heart.

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I find some quiet solace knowing that this incredible woman will hold on as long as she can.   I will cherish all of these precious memories and the new ones to come.  I know many others have experienced/are experiencing what I am going through right now.  I know it will only get worse as time moves forward, but nothing will take away the good moments we have had together.  So until the day comes when the memories are gone, we will take it one precious day at a time.

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