A Visit With My Grandmother
I recently returned from a 3-day trip to visit with family in Texas and Louisiana. For me, this trip was, more than anything, a way of seeking out closure. Over the years, my family has grown apart from me, and some of the biggest milestones in my life have been reached without a single family member in sight. While it saddens and pains my heart to no end, I've also reached an odd and quiet sort of acceptance of this. For the memories, and the closure of my past as I recall it, I took this trip as a journey into, and out of, my past...one final time.
Of all the family members I had the chance to visit and talk with, seeing my grandmother was the highlight of this trip for me. This is because all throughout my childhood, my grandmother played a key role in my life. On the day I was born, my grandmother was there with my mother, and was the first to hold me in her arms. There were times as a child when my grandmother raised me and cared for me in my mother's absence... and I have always seen her as a strong woman, full of life and love and stories of the past, like the guardian of old memories down memory lane. Yet, dementia has torn apart the gorgeous strands of memory in her mind, and knowing this, I was honestly afraid of what I would find once I saw her again face to face.
My mother had made her a little bracelet, which I put on my grandmother's delicate wrist. She's always loved jewelry, moreso bracelets now than anything else. And she's always been a hoot, but in her current state she seemed, at times, much more playful than before.
I know seeing my grandmother this way was hard on my mother. They were really close, but as the dementia sank its talons into my grandmother's brain, she became very mean and distant with my mother. It was a beautiful thing to see my mother get a few moments of love and laughter with her mother.
There were times when the visit was too intense and emotional; at one point, my mother and I had to walk away and compose ourselves.
But I also received a great blessing at one point during the visit. Alone with my grandmother, I listened to her tell me a story of a baby who had no one to care for her, so she took it upon herself to do so...and oh, how she loved this baby. That baby, I do believe, was me. When I was just 8 or 9 years old, my grandmother was asked (during a period of time when my mother was absent) by 2 police officers if there was anyone to care for me. She took me home with her that day, and I lived with her for almost a full year. This woman sacrificed for me, and was often all I had. Though dementia claims her mind, it was in that moment I knew that I'd still always claim a tiny portion of my Granny's heart. And while today, as I sit and recall this precious time with her, she has probably long forgotten it, and my visit....I am forever grateful that I was given back this small piece of memory to carry with me, as I guard my own memory lane.
Thank you, dear grandmother, for your love...for the years and years of your kindness and sacrifice, and for every memory of you I have. I love you.