Most of you probably don't know it, but my both of my mom's grandmothers had Alzheimer's. I grew up in California, very close with her maternal Grandmother, the woman I called Granny. She lived with my Grandparents for a very long time, but eventually had to be put into a full-time care facility. Luckily, my Grandmother worked within the industry, so I was able to see Granny a lot. One of my favorite memories of her, other than her huge crush on Bob Barker, was that she used to let me wheel her around the convalescence home. We'd go shopping, meaning I'd wheel her around the facility and pretend to go to placed I'd never heard of, like Ben Franklin. Sometimes she'd take things, arguing with residents and staff alike as she held up what she thought to be an advertising flyer, asking why they didn't have any more slippers or pantyhose on sale. Granny also lived with us for a while, and she locked herself in the bathroom, arming me with a bobby pin and told me that it was my job to get her out using only a bobby pin. Thanks for showing me how to pick a lock, Granny.
Anyway, my Grandmother wanted to transport her back east when we moved, so she'd have someone close. Granny turned and hurt her foot on the plane ride. I remember her checking into the home across from where we lived, and my mom's paternal grandmother stopped in and the women talked like sisters, they hadn't seen each other in so long, but the years melted away. Within a few hours, Granny was rushed to the hospital and my Mom and Grandmother left our house to go to the hospital (coincidentally it's right next to the convalescense home), and I stayed home with my Mom's boyfriend/fiancee at the time. I can remember that when she didn't make it through the night, he was the one who held me and told me and let me run upstairs and I cried for what seemed like hours. At her funeral, we didn't know it, but my mom was carrying my older little brother...I like to think Granny knew that life would carry on, and that's why she finally succumbed to the ravages of old age and the disease.
My mother's paternal grandmother lived back east, and when we moved to Ohio, we lived across the street from the convalescent home she lived in. A few times a week I would stop by and talk to her. I volunteered at the home as well, it was really cool to be able to learn bits and pieces about a woman I'd never met before. Now I wonder what she might have thought of me. She had no idea who I was, I got a smile and a hug on every visit, but I'm not sure if she really sensed our connection. My Great Aunt spent a few days a week at the home, taking her mother's clothes to be cleaned and such. When she passed, it wasn't a surprise because we'd known she'd eventually pass--I want to say people were waiting for it to happen.
Anyway, I apologize for the long disclosure. I wanted to give you a heads up on a huge, over $900 blog candy opportunity... Make a card for an alzheimer's caregiver by 8 CST today and head on over to: http://myblogbycammie.blogspot.com/2008/09/heart-to-heart-blog-candy.html to post the card and participate in the contest. And take a moment to think of those with Alzheimer's and those who are fighting this disease. With hope and support we can find a cure...