The Long Goodbye

On September 7, 2010, my grandmother, known by her grandchildren as Mamaw, quietly passed away. The strangest part about her actual death for me was that person I had known and loved my entire life had really died a couple of years before.
My Mamaw with my two youngest cousins, Ally + Kate
That is the cruelty of diseases like Alzheimer’s + Dementia, they rob the personality, memories and spirit of a person long before they take their body. For several years our family didn’t realize she was suffering from the disease. In the last years of my Papaw’s life he lovingly cared for her and kept us from seeing the early signs.
Mamaw + Papaw: Just 2 Kids in Love
Once he had passed, my dad and his brothers quickly realized living by herself was not an option. Initially she lived in a senior living community near my parents. This is the last place where she was herself. She knew us, welcomed us into her apartment. It is here that I told her I was engaged.
My Wedding Day
By the time my wedding arrived 10 months later she didn’t know why she was dressed up at a church and wasn’t sure who we all were. This is when the grief began for me. Each time I came home for a visit we would go see Mamaw. But for me she wasn’t there. Her spunk, her sense of humor were gone. It was heartbreaking.
My brother + I celebrating Mamaw’s 84th Birthday

It was also incredible to see my dad, mom, uncles and aunts care for her. Their love for her had never been more evident. She would have hated to see them fussing over her, but she also would have been so proud. Now that she is gone I wear a ring my Papaw gave her every day.  It reminds of the grandmother I really knew.

For more information about Alzheimer’s visit the Alzheimer’s Association website. For information about being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s, check out this article.

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