Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I keep trying to put my night with my grandmother into words, but end up deleting it because I just cant describe it. Anything I write sounds so...not as monumental as it was to me. (plus most of it was feeling and not physical things that happened.) I still haven't come up with anything that makes any sense or does it any justice...but I want to document something.

My Grandmother has Alzheimer's. Generally we can talk about her (or anything) right beside her and she wont notice or understand. Her health is drastically diminished (in fact, it feels odd to use the word "health" when speaking of her condition).

Tonight, my grandmother knew who I was. I don't just mean that I'm Emily...but who I am

She was happy to see me.

I sat on the floor at the side of her chair with my arm in her lap. She kept rubbing my arm, from wrist to shoulder. She would pat and rub and squeeze. She would rub my back and (so slowly, because that's how she moves) bend down to kiss my forehead. She kept telling me how glad she was that she was there with me and getting to know me better. She kept thanking me for coming and having that time with her. She was asking me details about my life, wanting to know what was going on with me. At one point she had bent down to kiss me, and after kissing my forehead bent down farther to kiss my lips. She told me that she wanted me to come see her more and talk with her so she could know me more and I just started crying. She just smiled at me and rubbed me and told me not to cry.

In the midst of the things that were happening that a camera could have caught, there were so many other things happening. The way that I felt can't be described. I felt like my grandmother was aware that she isn't normally there, and was treasuring the moment while she was. I felt like my Father in Heaven was blessing me with this moment with my grandmother. (as a side note, I also felt like my grandpa was very happy that I was getting to know this woman that he knows she is.) A moment in time that I had to feel close with the person she is, to have that to hold on to until I get to know her more once I join her in Heaven. Like I was getting a glimpse of the woman I will meet there. I felt like she had grown inside of her body over these past few years...like while she has been feeling gone to us, she was inside there just perfecting her wisdom in preparation to meet her God. She was a wiser woman than I have ever known her to be. I saw a deeper woman who has learned truths about this life. Her perspectives seemed changed. (She even asked why I didn't take her to church with me and told me that she wanted to go with me.) There were many things she said that are examples of this randomness I am speaking of, but I cant even remember them all specifically, or feel as if I should write them. She just treasured the things that are truly important, and took that moment to show it to me. At one point she even talked about how much kids learn from their grandparents. She wasn't telling me that I needed to learn from her, it was just an observation she was making. She talked about family and life and aging and being together. She talked about learning and growing. She was the most loving and caring I have ever seen her. She was content and happy. I was content and happy. I felt close to my Heavenly Father, and like the veil between the here-and-now and the life to come was very thin. My grandmother was a wise and tender and loving woman.

As special as this time was to me (which I obviously cant describe!), it also is leaving me feeling very scared that I am about to lose my grandmother on this earthly journey. That thought makes it hard to breathe, and I just keep reminding myself that it is part of this life for people to move on. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have that there is life after this one and that I will be with my grandmother again. I am in awe, amazed by the woman that I saw tonight. My grandmother has always been a great woman in a lot of ways, but never the woman I saw tonight. She has lived an amazing life and has incredible stories to prove her determination, whit, craftiness, strength, beauty and grit. She now has a tender love for the things in this world that truly matter and that you can take with you to the next life.

I hope to hold onto this woman that I sat with tonight. To pass that legacy on in my family tree. Because that woman was truly a heavenly Mother. 

Monday, January 2, 2012


I’m a “Daddy’s Girl.” With that said, the person that I wanted to marry as I was growing up was my Grandfather. Smokey. Nic-named that, as a boy, for shooting out the lights that lined the streets in Black Earth, Wisconsin. My Grandpa wasn’t always the best husband, or so the stories went. But he was always such an example of gentle strength and valor... in the eyes of this little girl. And my Grandma matched him as a companion. Both amazing people with amazing lives and stories to tell. I had amazing Grandparents who had a profound impact on my life. As I have gotten older…and they have gotten older, I have realized more and more how they have shaped the person I am.
My Grandmother has been declining with Alzheimer's as the years have progressed. And my Grandfather, the stalwart man that I always thought him to be, has truly stepped up to the plate to be her knight in shining armor. I have seen every other person around her show frustration, tiredness, aggravation, exhaustion (all understandable). Never once have I seen the slightest hint of any of these things in my Grandfather’s countenance. And how amazing it would be for someone to pull this off, and be so proud of themselves. But my Grandfather doesn’t even know that he has anything to feel proud of. He doesn’t feel aggravated or short changed, while managing to work through it and be the person he knows he should be. He doesn’t put on a smile in an attempt to be gallant. He simply is. When thinking about this as I sat with them one day, I pointed out to my Grandpa how happy Grandma is, and asked him if he realized that this is often not how people in her position feel. He was confused. He truly didn’t know. I guess he assumed that every aging woman who is constantly confused is madly in love with her husband? Maybe he even thought that she was in love because she was confused? She is, in fact, in love (more in love than I have ever seen her) because he is lovable. Absolutely adorably lovable. He goes along with her stories and plays with her and flirts with her and does anything he can do to make her feel happy. My Grandmother started humming (almost beatboxing) as the dementia has gotten worse. It’s quite cute at times. Her, just sitting there to her own rhythm, smiling at my Grandfather. And then she’ll stop and begin to tell me how much her and Smokey love each other, how much in love they have always been, and how they have never fought a day in their whole life (not even close to true, mind you). One time, during this conversation, I got my Grandfather’s attention and pointed out that Grandma was telling me how happy they have always been and how they have never fought a day in their marriage. Grandpa just smiled and agreed (winking to me), telling me how much they do love each other. He then told me their nightly routine. Grandma lays down for the night and begins making her “mouth music”. He laughs and tells her, “ok Gene, time to sleep. No more singing”. She laughs back, and agrees to stop. And then she begins to tell him how much she loves him, how thankful she is for him, how they have always been so happy and never fought. My Grandmother goes to bed happy each night, laying beside the love of her life, because of the love that that very man consistently shows her.
My Grandpa couldn’t have lived up to my beliefs in him any more than he is. They are both so lucky to have had this life together. I am so grateful to know that they will be together in the next life.

In the mean time, I will be praying for my Grandmother, that as she gets more confused and more physically ill, she will not feel alone. I pray that she will continue to feel loved and in love. I pray that she will have peace. And for my dear Grandfather, I pray that he will feel lifted with a sweet strength that love brings. That he will feel peace with the things which are going to happen. And that he will feel the truth that their love won’t end as my Grandma passes on. The love that has grown in the past few years will not be lost. They will be together. Grandma might not remember who he is today, but she will know who he is for the eternities to come. What a King and Queen they have turned out to be.