I am participating in the Blogging From A-Z Challenge. Each day in April (except Sunday), I will post topic themes that begin with the letters of the alphabet, from A-Z. Today's letter is G.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my Grandma has dementia. I go to her apartment every weekend evening to visit and dole out her meds. She always tells me how much she loves our visits, which makes me feel good. My previous post on this subject said everything it needed to say about how I'm feeling watching another Grandma deal with dementia. Instead of focusing on the painful part of this whole ordeal, I'd rather talk about the good stuff. The happy memories are the things that will keep our family afloat when the weight of Grandma's dementia starts to drown us all. Years from now, when she's gone, it will be the good memories that come to mind. Over time, the sadness and frustration of what the disease did to her will be far less prominent than the stories we have to share from the good old days.
|Grandpa & Grandma "Coyote"|
When I think back on the last 32 years, Grandma is a pretty significant part of my history. She is the person who taught me a lot about homemaking. She spent most of her time washing laundry, cleaning house, canning, or cooking. She has always had a garden, in some form or another, everywhere she has lived. When I was younger, it was a big garden that took up the majority of her backyard. There was corn, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers...every variety of fruit and vegetable you could think of. I remember going out back and playing hide and seek in the rows of corn or picking strawberries straight off the plant and eating them. They were in Grandma & Grandpa's garden, so there was never any worry of pesticides or poisons. If it was there, we could pick it & eat it. It only needed washing if there was dirt on it, and even that was really a judgement call. (Hey, God made dirt and dirt don't hurt, right?!)
Grandma raised 12 kids and was even given the unfortunate task of raising my brother and I on many occasions. Until dementia took hold, I never heard her complain about the difficulties of caring for so many children. She seemed tireless, always running around in her garden, faithfully attending church each week, and making sure the family was taken care of. She would wake up before the sun was out to read passages from her bible and pray before taking off to go to the various cleaning jobs she held. Later on in life, once she was done working, she volunteered at a local thrift shop where she would sort and organize donations, as well as go pick up day-old bakery goods from local grocery stores that would be put into food boxes for our community. Always busy, always on the move. That was my Grandma Coyote.
|Grandma with all 12 of her kids|
Some of my fondest memories are of our family gatherings. My Grandma gave birth to 12 children. That's right, an even dozen. I have nearly 40 cousins & even more 2nd cousins. When I was growing up, the family would rent a building so that we could all have Thanksgiving together. (Christmas alternated at various people's houses & were usually a bit smaller affairs.) There was typically a room that was designated for us kids. We'd run amok in our room, venturing out to put olives on our fingers or sneak a dessert. Grandma would be in the kitchen, usually the ringleader of the cooking and cleaning. The aunts would be in there helping Grandma while the Uncles played cards and talked about manly things. To this day, Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday, even though the family hasn't put on a big gathering like that in years.
These are the things I remember, the stories I hug tightly when I start to feel sad about my Grandma's declining health. She is still a strong woman, but she's slowed down. Nowadays the most activity she gets is walking down to her mailbox or going to one of her kids' house for dinner during the week. When I visit, we sit at her kitchen table and chat. Sometimes she tries to tell me about the previous days' events and sometimes she recalls her years raising her 12 children. Although she does have a lot of resentment toward the father of her kids for making her have so many babies, she is always grateful for each and every one of them. She talks about how they have made her proud and how blessed she is that she has never lost a child. They are all mostly healthy and happy. All have had children of their own, and many now have grandchildren. Though this disease is going to manifest itself in ways we don't quite know yet, I do know that it will be her unconditional love of her family, as well as her faith and strength, that will carry me through the days when she is too lost for me to reach.