As many of you know, the person I’ve only known as a grandfather, Lionel, has Alzheimer’s. It has gotten worse and these past few months have been difficult for my family. I decided to write a fairly personal post on CultureMap about it. It was a tough one to write.
“Yesterday, Lionel couldn’t make it to the bathroom fast enough,” my mother told me. “I guess he made quite the mess.”
I lingered on the mental image of this for a few seconds before I answered my mother.
“Why is he unable to make it to the bathroom in time?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I guess he can’t walk fast enough.”
“He told Grandma that he should just kill himself.”
The only man I’ve ever known as a grandfather has Alzheimer’s. I spoke about his disease in the past, but so much has changed since then. The tipping point has dropped. We were fearful it would come with a loud bang, but instead it’s been a never-ending, tortuous whisper.
Lionel recently moved out (more…)
I’ve debated whether or not to write this post out of privacy of the person its about.
Due to the delicate subject matter, I will keep the less dignifying moments- and there are a lot of them- out of the story. However, I’m still going to talk about the matter at hand because the matter is very real and very prominent in my life and in the lives of so many others.
Alzheimer’s is an ugly disease. It is a repugnant and bitter illness that has its way with the host- stealing memories, stirring up unwelcome emotions, breaking down the body- until one day it leaves nothing but a shell.
Lionel is at the point where he’s fighting the invasion tooth and nail. He’s been committed to the hospital where he’s gone in an out of lucidity. He knows who we all are, but he often forgets the details of his life. One thing he is certain about? He doesn’t want to be at the hospital.
The sad realization is- this is the tipping point of Lionel’s true descent.
He will not be going home.