She always took off from work at Thanksgiving through New Years. She meticulously cleaned her little house from top to bottom, scrubbing the floors on her hands and knees and then waxing and buffing them with a big machine they don’t make anymore. She decorated every inch of her tiny home for Christmas –to this girl’s eyes, her home was a gingerbread house come to life. She baked cookies and more cookies. She made pies. She fixed a feast of ham, baked beans and potato salad for Christmas dinner.
And then IT came and ruined everything. IT destroyed Christmas and the other 364 days of the year. IT sneaked and slithered, entwined and choked. IT made her forget.
Now a fine layer of dust and grime coats her home. She doesn’t notice. Now the tree stays stowed under the house, completely forgotten. She doesn’t understand what a Christmas tree is. Now the stove is turned off and the fridge is bare. She needs to be reminded to eat. Now the only thing she does meticulously is pack her suitcases with worthless old cookbooks and scraps of her past –a list of the pallbearers at her grandfather’s funeral. She’s waiting for her ‘family’ to come for her.
IT stole her family without taking them anywhere. Her family fills her tiny house and surrounds her with love –love she no longer feels or recognizes. IT gleefully rips my heart in two.
Her daughter tells her, “You won’t need those suitcases when your family comes for you. Jesus will provide everything you need.”
Confusion –IT laughs at us manically –“Who is Jesus?” she asks.
My rage is fierce and all-consuming. But IT hides safely within the shell of my grandmother. I see IT dancing and laughing at me behind her eyes, but there is nothing I can do. My rage boils and bubbles, flows in hot salty tears, burning my eyes and skin. There is nothing I can do.
IT has taken over and destroyed her mind, her memories, her personality, everything that made her my beloved grandmother. IT thinks IT has won. IT laughs cruelly.
But think again, IT. You haven’t won. You haven’t managed to infiltrate my grandmother’s soul. You’ve merely imprisoned her soul. You’ve had your way with her brain, but her heart is a fortress for her soul. Her spirit hides safely there. The day will come when the Lord sets her soul free and her soul will remember everything. Her soul will recognize Jesus, will be embraced in the loving arms of our beloved mother Mary, will rejoice in Gloryland. Her soul will celebrate with her family in heaven And her family on earth.
Go ahead and gloat now, IT. We will prevail. Enjoy my suffering while you can because the day is coming when you will be as helpless as I am now.
God, give me the strength to endure Alzheimer’s assault on my grandmother.