Victims of a Vicious Monster

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Gobble, gobble.  I’m going to gobble up your brain and eat away at your life.  But slowly…very slowly,” says the vicious monster.

This vicious monster is Alzheimer’s Disease, and he gobbles at random, gobbles mercilessly, and leaves families and his victims stunned, never seeing it coming.

Photo Courtesy of stock.xchng/ortonesque

The vicious monster recently gobbled up the life from my sweet grandmother Nonnie.  She was an amazing lady, even in her death.

A once-vibrant life, full of passion and love, was slowly disappearing, unbeknownst to her and us.  Slowly, slowly, he ate, taking brain cells one by one.  It happened so slowly that we hardly even noticed…until one day.

And then the ugly truth was seen, revealed.  His teeth were bared, slowly taking away life and love and memory from his victim, my Nonnie.

I remember the day I knew.  The day I was certain that Nonnie was starting to forget. There was a series of events that solidified it in my mind, but I remember the day that I was certain.

I wouldn’t say that anything particular happened on this day, but I knew.  I knew that the woman I loved so dearly was beginning to slip away.  I knew that the vicious monster, Alzheimer’s, was at work in her life.

I remember sitting at the table with my dad, having to convince my mom that this was real, that this was happening to her mother.

The events were adding up: she couldn’t remember our house alarm code, no matter how many times we patiently showed her; and she never wanted to be out of your sight, afraid she would lose her way.  One day we were making sandwiches, buffet-style, and I could tell she didn’t know what to do.  She didn’t even know how to make a sandwich.

As the gobbling of her brain cells increased, I began to know that soon, someday, she wouldn’t remember me.  One night, when she had already progressed quite a lot, I held her hands, looked her in the eyes, and said, “I’m afraid you’re going to forget me.”  Tears welled up in both our eyes, she looked back at me and said, “Me too.”

It was said.  We both knew it, and it was scary.  Aren’t all vicious monsters scary?

The years progressed, as did her condition.  Soon she could no longer care for herself or remember us.  But each time I visited, said her name, and told her I loved her, she would light up.  Nonnie knew me, no matter how hard that vicious monster tried to take that from us. She always knew that I was someone who loved her deeply, and that was all that mattered.

Do you have a loved one that has suffered from Alzheimer’s?  What toll has it taken on you and your family?

If you liked this post, you might also like Hear Their Cries or Meet a Fresh Face.

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15 thoughts on “Victims of a Vicious Monster

  1. Oh, how we miss our Nonnie, but what memories we have of her… until that monster gets us!
    I knew in my heart that she knew who I was by the look in her eyes when I was there. She might not have remembered my name, but she knew who I was…someone who loved her.

    • Yes, missing our sweet, sweet Nonnie. I’m so thankful for the love you showed her and modeled for me. I know you learned your love and compassion and sacrifice of yourself from her.

    • I know. It definitely touches everyone, but often in very different ways. It can be so terrible for the person who has it, but it’s usually the families that are the ones truly grieving the living loss of their loved one. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Thank you so much dearest Keeley for sharing that with all of us. We do miss her terribly. She did teach all of us so many different things. As you so wonderfully put it the day she went to heaven “Now she can think again!!” What a blessing that was for all of us who loved her so much – knowing she was whole again in heaven.

    • Yes, we do all miss her. I’m thankful to know that she knew the Lord and that he promises to restore all things and make us whole again! What a great hope and promise.

  3. Oh Keeley – i love your writing – this is so incredible – i only wish i could have seen her more – she was such a lady and so happy to see me – everytime – she is deeply missed.

  4. Keeley,
    Thank you for this post. What an awful monster it is, Alzheimers disease. Daily it is a struggle for all whom are affected by the disease. But I know you will agree it is God’s grace and love that allows us the patience, love, respect, and most of all our sympathy for our loved ones that are diaganosed with Alzheimers. I hope you remember your Nonnie as the person before she was attacked by Alzheimers. The person that you saw not knowing how to make sandwhiches, unable to remember the alarm code or even questioning if she would remember you certainly was not your Nonnie, it was the monster that you refer to as Alzheimers. Thank you again for your post. Will see you soon. Xo

    • Thanks for sharing your own insights Carey. I pray for you on your own journey. It definitely is a daily struggle and heartache, but God’s breath flows through them to the end, so we must continue to love them even if they’re not the same mentally. It’s a way of honoring the person they were and loving the person that is still there. It’s hard though. I definitely agree it’s a terrible, terrible disease.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story. It is so hard to lose a loved one a little bit at a time. My grandmother has severe dementia as well. She has no idea she’s a great-grandmother, never really knew who Kevin was, hasn’t known who I am in years. My mom goes to see her several times a week and my grandmother told her once, as a compliment, “you’re just like a daughter to me.” Imagine hearing that from your own mother. There are so many difficult diseases out there, but this one seems particularly cruel.

    • I know. It was so sad to me that my grandmother never got to know David and that he didn’t ever get to know they whole her. I can’t imagine what your mother goes through, like my own did as well. It must be so, so hard to have her completely forget you. I knew it was just the disease, but I can’t imagine how hard it must be as a daughter. But, I think the more you visit, talk, and interact with them, the more you’re able to love them in new ways that continue to honor them and the love they showed to you for so many years. I would still get choked up visiting her though. It’s definitely a cruel disease.