My Grandma has Dementia and has had it as far as we know since 2008, though it probably started forming long before that. She had a car crash in October 2007 and knocked down a few statues downtown Langley. At that time, it was not even a question in our mind.. Until one day she was driving her car (the one I drive now, thank you Granny) and asked me “Which one is brake? Which one is gas?”
She was able to live at home for a while. I helped as much as I could and then when I moved to Vancouver, my Aunt was there all the time. Cooking and bringing her meals and doing every single errand she could to keep my Grandma sustained. We started Homecare for her and then we decided it was time to put her in a retirement home.
Thankfully, I work for a company that owns many of them, and it wasn’t hard to get her in one of our nice facilities.
She moved into Assisted Living in April 2010 and fast forward to last week.. Where she moved into Residential Care. People with Dementia display different types of behaviours. Some are violent, some are distant, some are just plain happy and confused. My Aunt said she kept finding dishes and cutlery in different parts of her suite (she was hoarding them).
I never thought that today I would be visiting my Granny.. and she’d be amongst a bunch of really ‘demented’ people. Literally and figuratively. She herself has it.. but she doesn’t need a walker, a wheelchair, a lift, someone to feed her, etc. She does however have to be changed, just like a baby. I imagine in her mind how demeaning that is, to have someone change your fucking diaper. I mean, shit, I’d die inside a little bit.
She may not be ‘cognitively’ well, but I honestly know what she’s thinking. She can no longer speak English and can barely communicate in Croatian. She walks fine, albeit a little slow, she can feed herself.
The subject comes from the fact that she was wearing a bib. They call them something else, I am sure of it, not a bib, but that is what it was. She was eating canned cherries for dessert after lunch. She used to eat them fresh.
The food in the homes are not that great, there is a lot to be desired and I know this firsthand. If I could change all the crappy stuff they serve them I would. If I could bring her a home cooked meal every day, I WOULD.
As she was finishing her lunch, my Aunt & I went to her room to drop a few things off and I started crying. My poor aunt, not knowing what to do with her crying baby just assured me it would be okay. Though, I know it will be okay, it is just really tough seeing the woman who helped raise me there, in the place. The woman who I spent most of my childhood with, the woman that would beat me with a wooden spoon when I would beat up my brother, the woman that was the strong one in our family, the woman that helped us out when we were in need, the woman that picked me up the day I left my husband.
She is amazing and I want to make sure that every time I visit I remind myself of that. I love her so much that every time I think about canned fucking cherries and adult bibs, I cry.
After my bout of crying today, my Granny walked in, sat down on her bed and looked at me, probably knowing I was crying. She started crying herself. That made me start crying again. She wanted to know when she could go back to the other side.. how do you tell her that is never going to happen?
I have to remember that this is all good for her and she is getting good care, but it just is not where I wanted her to be or see her. Right now, she should be going on a cruise or going to Croatia for months at a time, visiting her family. And that is never ever ever going to ever happen again and it makes me sad for her.
I love you, Baba.