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.
He will be moving into an assisted living center.
“Home” will take on a new meaning.
It was a long time coming. Holding fists up to my grandmother, driving around town for 3 or 4 hours lost, sleeping all day, falling, swearing, completely knowing that he absolutely does not have Alzheimer’s. The past few weeks he had been falling regularly and on one particular evening, his fall resulted in uncontrollable shaking. 911 was called and Lionel has been at the hospital ever since. He was recently switched to a more “monitored” floor after he began acting out verbally and physically.
My grandmother has visited Lionel every day and she will continue doing that. Though my grandmother has only acknowledged Lionel as “her good friend” in public, they’ve lived together for ten years and she has grown accustomed to having him in the house and taking care of his needs. She’s at a loss now. Though I’m sure there is a small part of her that is relieved to have her life back, there is a large part of her that’s not sure what to do. When you’re 85, the world is no longer your oyster. I keep trying to give her some tiny piece of my oyster, but with every suggestion that she take a vacation or move, she acts like she doesn’t hear me.
We miss Lionel.
Though the original Lionel was a pain in the ass at times, we grew accustomed to his snarky stories and wise guy sense of humor. He came into our lives the day that Grandma sued him for medical costs after she tripped and fell in the building he owned and he’s never left.
To say that we liked Lionel is a long shot, but we definitely grew to love him.
No man deserves this.
The funny thing about Alzheimer’s is we mostly know what the future will hold for the person with the disease and we don’t want to accept it.
I have no idea what the future holds for my grandmother.
I lost my grandmother to Altzheimer’s 7 years ago…on April fools day no less. Watching her go from a tall, strong, independent woman to a tiny, lost old lady in what seemed like a blink of an eye was one of the hardest things I had ever done….in fact, I did not do it well at all. I had trouble visiting her, I did of course, but not as often as I should have. I miss her…..but part of me was happy when she moved on. The suffering was terrible and her life had become far from the dignified existence she deserved.
Kimberly, I can’t imagine. It’s hard enough watching Lionel go through this, if my grandma had it, I would absolutely die. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.
How I feel for you. Both personally, as I have this horrible illness in my family and personally on another level because I know and adore your family. I’m so sorry.
Thanks, Rachel. It’s a tough time right now and new to me. I know you’ve had some tough times in the past with losing ones that you love. I really appreciate your thoughts!
My pop was a lot like that… we were fortunate to never quite lose him completely, but he pretty much needed 100% supervision. He had someone, his grandchildren mostly, to visit him almost daily.
Did he have Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia? I’m sorry you had to go through that. I can’t even imagine what it’s like watching a parent go through that.
My heart goes out to you and your family. The slow gradual loss of a loved one to Alzheimer’s is particularly cruel; while they are physically still there, the soul and the personality that you love is being stolen away and there is nothing that can stop it. Growing up, we grew up living with my grandparents (they helped out my single mom) so we spent a lot of time with my grandma’s sisters, particularly my Tia Esther. We would go out with her every week and her and I were very close. I sang her songs and drew her pictures and she called me her Purple Cheerleader (purple was my favorite color). She got Alzheimer’s when I was in my late teens and it was heartbreaking for us and for her grandchildren to lose her a little more every year. To this day, we cannot talk about her without me tearing up. I hope you know I’m here if you need to talk or just be sad about it.
Awww Cathy. Man, I can’t even imagine. I’m very close to my family too and watching everyone suffer, including the person with the disease, is just absolutely painful. On a lighter note, it looks like we’ll finally meet on Sunday! Very excited!