We lived next door to my dad's mom until right before I started third grade, when we moved into a bigger house across town. While we lived next door (which was a street away from where Joe grew up, btw), she used to baby-sit me after school. At some point, I don't remember when because I'm old now and those memories are fuzzy, my Granny moved in. Granny was not blood-related to any of us, but had raised my Grandpa and so she was family. I think that's how family works.
Granny died a few years after we moved, and my grandma moved into the condo that Joe and I are now renting. Life hasn't been very fair to Grandma, and yeah, yeah, I know life's not fair but that's not going to stop me from being pissed off about it. Her husband, my grandfather, died before I was born. He was only 46. When I was in college, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She beat that and was diagnosed with diabetes. And a few years ago, doctors found a cyst that was pushing on her brain, causing confusion and other physical problems.
I remember being relieved when I found out that it was a cyst and not a tumor. But now I think, "fuck that cyst," because it has been nothing but a pain in the ass (brain?) ever since it turned up. It's required two of the same surgery, a shunt, and a temporary-turned-permanent stay in a variety of nursing homes. And the surgeries? They seemed to work at the time but she's been in a spiraling state of confusion ever since. She became paranoid and was sometimes mean. Sometimes funny mean, like when she threatened to punch my dad in the gonads, but other times mean mean. Mostly she was just confused. She sometimes thought she was back in her childhood home. She thought she had more than one room at the nursing home and always insisted that we take her to it.
She did have moments of complete lucidity, where she was all there, all Grandma again, and she'd make a joke or tell a story from when my dad was a kid. My sister and I visited once, and I spent the majority of the visit pushing Grandma's wheelchair up and down the hallways of the nursing home because she insisted that we go to her "other" room and no amount of me telling her that there WAS no other room was going to dissuade her. We spent a good hour exploring the halls and we never found it, of course, but when we got back to Grandma's room, she looked me square in the eye, all there, and said, "You're a good kid." I laughed it off, as I do whenever anything gets too serious, and made a comment about how I hadn't been a kid in a very long time. Then we talked about the new Where the Wild Things movie.
That's the last time I remember seeing the Grandma I grew up with. Since then, she's only gotten worse. She was recently moved to a home that specializes in Alzheimer's and dementia patients. I won't go into details, but she's been a handful, to put it mildly, and this was primarily the reason she couldn't come to the wedding.
Last weekend it reached epically bad proportions, as her doctors try to find a balance in her medication. They need to keep her calm without over-medicating her. I haven't seen her yet in the new home but I imagine it's not good, as my parents have forbidden me or any of the other grandkids to go see her without one of our parents. She's not eating. My parents couldn't wake her up when they visited last, she was so over-medicated. So. It's bad. I feel stupid and naive for thinking it would ever get better.
This coming Saturday, I'm walking in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk in honor of both my Grandma and Aunt Kathy, both breast cancer survivors. I've done a pretty piss-poor job raising money, so if you can find it in your hearts (and wallets) to make a donation, I'll be your best friend. Or say really nice things about you on the internets. Or write a post about anything you want. Hopefully not one as sad face as this one, though, I had to take a lot of DON'TYOUCRYRIGHTNOW breaks.