Monday, February 18, 2008

Catching up

Just got off the phone with my aunt. Seems she's had an epiphany of sorts, in dealing with her mother and Alzheimer's. Several months ago I'd had a fit of temper (the ego-maniac that I am) and made the comment "how dare she forget her first grandchild... how dare she forget me." I was more than a little upset that Grandma had forgotten to "pretend to remember". That had been our pattern over the last five years. I'd call, she'd blink in and out of lucidity, and for one or two brief moments during the call I'd really have my Grandma back, then she'd get quiet and I knew I'd become a stranger again. Politely, I'd promise to call again soon, hang up the phone and sob over the loss of a woman I'd dearly loved.

My aunt has packed up her life to go and care for her mother. This wasn't an easy task, as she's also been caring for my cousin the past fifteen years. Once a strong, self-reliant young man, his life was shattered when the driver of the car he was riding in ran a red light. Ryan's brain stem was damaged, his body broken beyond repair. Sent home to die, he's managed to hang on all these years, simply because he knows his death would send his mom over the edge. He never was one to cause a fuss. Now he's been packed up and moved eight states away to watch the spectacle of our nutty Grandma making his mom crazy.

Aunt Callie has caught up. She had to call and tell me she'd had a moment where she finally understood my anger. It seems Grandma can remember bad things that happen to her, but cannot remember having her daughters... she claims to have no children, in fact. It was when she stated that Ryan wasn't related to her that my aunt snapped. It was always "Cami and Ryan" this and that. It hurts to be forgotten, hurts that she commits the smallest slights (Gr. Uncle Gene bringing Valentine's chocolates to everyone at the house made Grandma mad. She wanted them all for herself.) to memory, but didn't fight to keep a thread of memory for her children, or her grandchildren. As the oldest grandkid, I felt the loss deeper. Ryan has short-term memory loss, so he can tune all this out. Lucky.

I am up for "Most Callous Grandchild" in the family awards ceremony, because I've now successfully detatched from the situation. I can't feel anything but a morbid curiousity about how our visit in March will be received, and having stated it's all over but the funeral, am now chief arse in the family. But they've all thought it, too. And it's beginning to wear on everyone. Grandma's vacant eyes, the sitting and tapping, and the auditory hallucinations and subsequent tantrums are all wearing Aunt Callie to a raveling end. Prayers are much appreciated, mostly for a bar to open up across the street, or a psychiatrist to fall madly in love with my auntie... she needs someone with a prescription pad!

This wasn't at all what I thought I'd be posting about today. The 'Rocketry' sweater is done and blocked and awaiting buttons, the nice lady from Caldrea called me back with a solution to my laundry soap problem, and "the world's most boring self-striping sock" is coming to a close. Tomorrow is knit-night, I'm having an early menopause, the "baby" is off bottles now for good (since Groundhog's day, actually) and I'm still considering going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival for the first weekend in May. I guess there's more to discuss later, huh? C


LotusKnits said...

Aw honey, I'm sorry about your grandma, aunt and cousin. That must be frustrating for everyone involved.


Annalea said...

Cami, I completely understand your feelings about your grandmother. When my grandfather was dying of heart disease, he lost his lucidity for the last few weeks. He was at home, just a two-minute walk from my house on the family farm, but I couldn't go and see him. My brother was there every moment he could be, and my Dad spent what time he could aside from running the farm and taking care of his own family. But I couldn't go there. My grandfather was gone, and I couldn't go and pretend to be attached to someone who didn't know me anymore.

Best of luck with your family, and how they deal with the whole thing. Everyone has their own style--it's just a booger that some of those styles involve vilifying the rest of us for how we deal with things.

And I hope your Aunt Callie can made a good decision regarding her mom's care. At this point, I would opt for a nursing home or something similar. Keeping grandma surrounded by family seems to only be destructive--and would she have wanted that to be her final contribution to the family?

Big hugs . . .

Kyrin said...

Situations like these just suck ass. There is nothing you or anyone else can do to make them better. I hate hate hate that! Although I have never had to deal with someone with Alzheimers...I have had to deal with just hoping and waiting for it to all end. I don't think that makes us bad people. I think that makes us human and compassionate for wanting all the hurting (of any kind...emotion or physical etc.) to end.


And you are not a complete nutter. I totally understand when you said you missed me :) I miss you nutty nut ball! (says the kettle to the pot)

Stephanie said...

Damn I hate this thing. I signed in and everything and it STILL put me on here as Kyrin. Really...I'm not trying to be my 14 year old. Really. I SO don't want to be 14 again :)

GAH....going to go sulk now....


Marigold said...

I'll keep your aunt, the family and you in my prayers. My Grandfather had Alzheimer's for years, and it was very upsetting for me that at my wedding, he wanted to leave as soon as possible. NOT the man i remember, who loved talking with all the relatives, and polka-ing the night away. ::sigh:: I don't feel badly that I didn't visit at the end, but I do feel ...upset...that my sister had the burden of his care. Is your aunt involved in any support groups? Does she have someone she can talk to, or anyone who can take over some of the day-to-day care, at least occaisionally?


p.s. congrats on the little boy being off bottles :)