Saturday, January 3, 2009

Close to Home

My grandmother had a form of dementia. It was not Alzheimer's, rather dementia coupled with strange behaviors. I was young and didn't get it at the time. We would take my grandmother with us to Minneapolis. It was about a 6 hour drive to my great grandmother's house. My grandmother did well until she felt pressured. If confronted with having to make a decision she would "act out" to avoid the decision and focus her anger towards the person who was asking her to decide. I remember one day my mother wanted to go shopping. My grandma couldn't decide if she wanted to go shopping or stay with my great grandmother. My mother kept saying "come on mom, it will be good for you to get out of the house." My grandmother went along but it was very tense. She then announced as we got to the store "I s&%# my pants". Horrified my mother became angry and said "well I believe there is newspaper in the backseat. You need to sit on that until Jennifer and I get done shopping. You are not coming into the store." We left my grandmother with her pants full of BM, sitting on newspaper in the car parked outside the store. Once back at my great grandmother's house, I heard voices coming from the bedroom and there was my grandmother standing in front of a mirror as if showing off a dress. She was talking into thin air, smiling and laughing as if in front of a room full of admirers. Time went on and her dementia grew worse. She could remember the past and piece together the present with speculation. She knew me and my mother until the end. Even though she could recall who we were her timeline was gone, the days, months and years melted together. It was difficult to talk with her because I had no idea who the people were she was talking about. One day I stopped by the grocery store and bought iced sugar cookies. I took them over to her and just listened, I added to the conversation once in awhile. I think that visit was the best we ever had.

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