Last weekend we took a break and didn't go to see Gram. Scott called her to let her know and Gram said noone comes to visit anymore. She was including us.
She forgot about the previous week's visit, when we were laughing hysterically when Gram kept cutting off Scott's head in every photo, laughing about her telling me I'm getting old. Scott tried to remind her, how we were all dressed up getting ready to go to a wedding, how we had a good time.
I'm at that point where I feel like I can't take any more. She seemed to be doing so well! For a few weeks, she seemed to be closer to her old self, walking better, able to carry a conversation, remembering things, not falling asleep mid-visit. I knew it was temporary, but I had no idea it would be so quick.
I'm pissed! Of all the sweet people this could happen to... Gram always took care of everybody. Always. She took me in from day one, welcomed me without hesitation. She bought groceries for us, cooked dinner, tried to shoo me away when I tried to help clean up. Yeah, that didn't last. Like I'd let her do the dishes after cooking for us. As if. We'd take home leftovers and groceries, milk, bread, cookies, Cheezits that she kept buying for Scott (which he didn't have the heart to tell her he didn't like). And give us some gas money, a little spending money. Every week. Until the Alzheimers.
Now we take care of her, as we can. Groceries, bringing dinner, and until recently, bills and mail... It's not enough. We can't do enough. And there isn't anyone else. After a lifetime helping others, she's on her own with just us and our (almost) weekly visits. A couple of kids.
I feel like a kid. I feel like I'm too young to be going through this, taking care of someone. Well, as much "taking care of someone" as you can call it. Because, and excuse me while I'm being hard on myself, it's just not fucking enough.
Where are relatives that she helped raise? Where did everyone go, I wonder. But then, I know that when the symptoms first appeared, Gram tried to keep us from visiting. Told us we didn't have to come by anymore. That we shouldn't come by anymore. That she preferred us to not come by anymore. Yeah. As if. She gave us pause, but she couldn't stop us. We came back anyway, hesitant about whether we'd get shooed back out or find anger or coldness. It was awkward. But we got past it.
I thought we had been through enough hard parts that we'd, I don't know, get "used to it"? We knew it would be hard. I knew that one day, we'd go and she wouldn't know who we were. But knowing in the head, and having it happen: very different things. And every week, seeing her a little bit (or a lot) worse, has been pounding away at us, sledgehammer-like but in a dull roar kind of way. You know it's there but you don't realize how little your defenses have become until suddenly you have none. Squashed, wondering, what more?
Beaten down until the fight is knocked out of me.
And excuse me again while I beat on myself: Maybe I'm weak? Maybe someone else could handle this better?
I can't take any more of this. And yet I will. Go. On Sunday. And next Sunday. And maybe take the next one off. Because someone who has given to everyone else all the rest of their life deserves to have someone there for the last of it.
And PS, you don't need to respond or anything, just needed to word this out. It's what's going on. And, heh, it's what's keeping the knitting and spinning from going on.