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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday With Nannie

I had intended to grit my teeth and tackle the storage room today. I had a Plan. Really, it was a Plan of Attack. I knew exactly where I was going to start and how many boxes I intended to get through before the sun went down, how many Charity bags I'd fill, and how many trash bags I'd need. As always I ended up with a strange sing-song loop in my head chanting, "The best laid plans of mice and men..."

Instead I spent the day with my Nannie. She fell yesterday trying to do a load of laundry, so I sat with her today in case she decided to go for a tumble again. She didn't, though she was very wobbly. Nannie's been fighting dizziness all her life, and now that she's 85-years-old with weak legs... well. She usually doesn't fall more than once every few months. Unfortunately this month isn't a normal month. She waited until Grandpa John had come home and I'd gone back across the alley to our house. Then she fell trying to get into bed. Will I ever be able to express how thankful I am that Nannie falls, quite literally, in slow-motion? No. I don't think so. I don't know how she manages it, but I am thankful for it every single day.

*sigh* My wonderful Nannie. My adorable, silly, sarcastic, clever Nannie. My funny, white haired story-teller. Always with her nose in a book.

She is not impressed with shenanigans.

I caught flashes of my Nannie today through the vascular dementia that is trying to steal her from us. We were discussing a cousin and Nannie said, "She's not real big--you know, she's not fat, but she's not very tall." And I said, "She's taller than me, though." And Nannie said, "Honey, everybody's taller than you." HA! THERE'S my Nannie! Most of the time, though, her sentences start vague and end up with her saying, "Oh, nevermind." She knows the words--we know she knows them. They're in her head. Her whole life has been devoted to books--she KNOWS those damn words... they just won't come out. They're stuck in her head like a hair in overcooked caramel. It breaks my heart, and it's breaking the heart of everyone who has known her. She clings to the words the Mayo Clinic doctors told her-- It's Not Alzheimers. And, it isn't. But she's forgotten that they said vascular dementia would progress as she aged, and that, one day, it would act just like Alzheimers. She HATES Alzheimers. It took her father away from her, and then it took her sister. This is not Alzheimers, but it might as well be. We all HATE vascular dementia. We hate it so much worse because, with Alzheimers, many times the sufferer doesn't know they're losing their mind. My Nannie knows. She feels every lost word, confused story, forgotten ending. She knows, but there's nothing she can do. There's nothing any of us can do but sit with her when we can, and try to help her move as steadily as she can through this. She helped teach me how to walk, talk, read, tie my shoes and use the toilet. That woman, incredible Nannie--I miss her so much. But I SAW her today--and that made today wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. Well, you've made your Uncle Jimbo cry, but a wonderful story.