“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.
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?