What’s Happening…

Hello, Friends,

I apologize for my long absence.  To say I’ve had a lot going on in my life would be an understatement.  I’m still dealing with health issues and stuff at work, but most importantly, I lost my grandmother last month.  As you know, my grandparents raised me, so Grandma was really my mom.

Toby & Her Grandchildren & Great Grandchildren 04 - 029She would have been 97 next month.   She died the morning of June 29th, and her memorial service was July 7th.  She outlived (by years) every one of her nine siblings, as well as her husband and one of her children.  (The rate my health has been this year, I was sure she’d outlive me as well.)  She was sweet, smiley, silly, stubborn, smart, sometimes slow, secretive, and most of all, strong.  That was the theme of her eulogy that I gave.  (I think the alliteration got a few extra chuckles .)  I wanted a service that celebrated her life rather than focused on mourning her passing, and I think we achieved that.  I think she would have been happy with everything.

Toby & Her Grandchildren & Great Grandchildren 04 - 003-She pulled her feeding tube out again.  I got the call while I was in the midst of preparing for a huge golf tournament for work that I’d been organizing since January.  It was the night before the tournament, and the nursing home called and asked if they should send her to the hospital to have it put back in.

She hadn’t had any quality of life for quite a while.  The Alzheimer’s was so severe, she hadn’t spoken in over a year.  The last few times I went to see her, I could tell she thought she should know me, but she just couldn’t connect the dots.  Her blue eyes which smiled her whole life didn’t sparkle anymore, and you could tell the life was gone from her spirit.

Toby & Her Grandchildren & Great Grandchildren 04 - 008It never occurred to me in past times that she’d pulled out the tube that perhaps she was doing it on purpose – as if she was telling me she was ready to leave this life.  But it came to me this time, and I knew it was time to let her go.

Some people assumed because in the past when they asked how I would handle her passing, I said it was like she was already gone, that this meant I wouldn’t grieve or mourn her death.  There couldn’t be anything farther from the truth.

Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease.  It rips away the memories of a lifetime and leaves but a shell of a person.  It eventually takes away the ability to eat, to swallow, and even to breathe. Anyone who’s experienced this with a loved one knows you have to put emotional distance between yourself and the person with this diagnosis because you’re both victims.  The loved ones that are left are as affected as the person with the diagnosis.  How must it feel to love someone so deeply for your entire life and know they don’t even recognize you?

I asked the nursing home to keep her on morphine and move her to hospice so she didn’t have to die in that nasty place.  But the only hospice that took her insurance was over an hour away, so she stayed there.  I knew it would take about a week and it would be an agonizing procedure – – You’re literally starving and dehydrating the person to death.   The organs dry up and stick together until everything slows down and then stops.

I couldn’t get out to see her until the day after the tournament, so 36 hours after the call, and I saw her several times a day, every day after that. She had eye movement for everyone else that went to see her – my kids, my birth mom, my uncle – but never for me.  I felt she was actually giving me the stink eye a few times.  It’s like she knew I was the deciding factor that allowed them to let her go.  She was afraid of death her whole life, and she knew I knew it.  And I sent her there to see Old Man Death, scared and alone.  I’ll have to live with that the rest of my life.  Such is the price of being “the strong one.”

Anyway, enough feeling sorry for myself.  I hope you’re all doing well, and I especially thank those of you who sent me such sweet messages.  I hope to be back more often that I’ve been this year thus far.

Keep smiling, and stay healthy!  (Yes, all photos are of Grandma and me.)


49 thoughts on “What’s Happening…

  1. Well, she had a jolly good run for her money and you have the good memories to savour. I know when my father had dementia at the end of his long life his character (let alone his thought process) changed dramatically…sometimes not pleasantly. Best hang on to the mass of good times you had and file the last bit away in the back of your mind.

    • Ouch! I’m so sorry, Mike. Yeah, I’ve known other Alzheimer’s patients who “changed” or got pretty mean at the end. Thankfully, I didn’t have that to deal with. Planning the funeral was difficult, but I was most overwhelmed by the number of so called “friends” who did and said nothing. I’m talking real-life people who knew me AND her. It disgusted me with most of my local acquaintances for sure. How are you doing, my friend?

      • Nothing disappoints like humans sometimes. Sad but true. My dad had vascular dementia at the end. He had adored Shirl though when his mind went he would swear at her and be generally nasty. Previously he had never sworn in front of a woman.
        Me? Getting back to normal after the stress of Brexit. Made me rather ill in mind and body. I’ve even given up coffee as the caffeine problems I had years back returned to haunt me. I’m fine now, yet in that interim period twixt feeling ill and then good I went to the doctor and he set up all these bloody tests…the last, and most horrible one is tomorrow! The blood test was a comedy as the nurse extracting armfuls of blood from me announced that she’d forgotten her reading glasses and requested I place my fingertip on the vein as she couldn’t see anything and needed me to guide the needle! I’m not good with blood!
        I guess I’ll have something to write about tomorrow…there’s always a plus…hopefully!
        Have a splendid day, Rachel

      • UGH! That stinks! I can’t believe she made you hold your own vein while she stabbed you! She’d never make a good vampire. That’s sad about your dad. read somewhere recently (don’t know if it’s true or not) that once someone is diagnosed with Alzheimers, they usually only last about 6 more years. Grandma had a lot more than that which I guess is a mixed blessing. Thankfully, she didn’t get too mean with people as I know some patients do. So how did your last test go? I hope you’re fit and healthy! ❤

  2. I’m sorry for your loss but it sounds like she had a full and happy life and was truly ready to go. I think there is always some amount of guilt in the end when you see a loved one pass, but you did what was best.

  3. Oh, Rachel, I so identify with what you say about the pain of being “the strong one”! I’ve been down that road so many times, as the eldest of four. Even when people are grateful to you for making tough decisions they don’t want to make, they still tend to resent your strength, or else they think you must be fundamentally unfeeling in order to be that strong.

    I just recently lost both my parents, and my father’s descent into Alzheimer’s was fantastically fast after Mom died. I’m grateful he didn’t linger on the way your Grandma did; just watching his disintegration over a few months was painful enough. Sending sympathy, empathy and a hug!

    • Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss! ❤ Yes, that's at least condolence for you that he didn't drag along. That was quite difficult. Your words are so true… Too many people do resent us strong ones or think we must not feel anything. Thank you so much, and best wishes to you!

  4. So sorry for your loss. You are strong. Sometimes it sucks being the strong one. There is strength in admitting vulnerability, though.<3

  5. Ah, my friend, you’re right – it’s always the strong ones and we do know how strong you are. It’s only because it’s these moments in life that make that capable strength. You know she’s aware now of what you did and the whys of it that was based in your love. I also know the strong ones need some pretty big hugs often too – so, here’s some more from me. Nicely written, Rachel. xo

  6. That couldn’t have been an easy decision, and whatever decision you made I expect you’d have ended up second-guessing yourself. You made your decision with love, and with respect for her wishes when she could no longer voice them. No one could ask more.

  7. i am so sorry for the loss of this special woman who meant so much to you. you do not have to feel bad for a second for choosing to let her go, it was the most merciful thing you could have done in my opinion, and showed how much you really loved her. hugs –

  8. Rachel, it is so great to see you back, but I’m so very sorry you had to tell us this news. It sounds like your grandmother had a long and mostly happy life, and you did everything you could for her. You did do her a favor, and you should not feel guilty about it. I’m sure she knew how much you loved her. Sending you a big hug, my friend!

  9. So very sorry for this huge loss in your life, dear friend Rachel. You handled it well for your Grandma and yourself. You are the strong one. Condolences from Karen and I. ❤ I bet your eulogy was perfect, every word. You were the one in her life.

  10. Rachel, I am sending you comfort and hugs. Once upon a time, your lives were joined by a strong and lasting love. Your grandmother looks so sweet in your photographs. I think she will be looking over your shoulder, you will have her in your heart always.
    When I worked at a nursing home, I met many blessed Hospice workers. One told me when there is no appetite it is okay, their sense is of floating on clouds and their stomachs don’t ache for food. Morphine and someone praying, singing or holding their hand is enough. I am sure it didn’t “hurt” her, but would you more. Watching was hard but in my activities position, I would bring in the music of the 40’s or church music, I’d their chart said they didn’t mind faith.

    The other parts of your life which may also be burdens will hopefully lighten and evaporate. 🙂 You know, I haven’t stopped following you, probably miss a lot with my scattered and busy life, but I hope to stay in better touch. Your warmth in the way you write always touched me. ❤

  11. Rachel, thanks for sharing this with us. I can feel your pain and sorrow in this post for the loss of your grandmother. I hope knowing and believing that she is free and no longer suffering now brings some comfort. Get well soon yourself and I look forward to future posts of yours 🙂

  12. This was very tough for you Rachel. You have had such a difficult time lately. I hope you know you made the right decision for your grandma, and in her heart she probably knew that. Take care of yourself. You will miss her, but she lived to a grand old age, and you have wonderful memories and photos of your life together. Xxx

  13. I’m so sorry about your grandma. Your absence is truly understandable. Losing someone dear in your life is quite a blow. And, dealing with health issues added to it can be quite overwhelming. Take care of yourself Rachel, and don’t worry about blogging. It (and the people) would still be here when you get back. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s