7 September 2014

On forgetting and remembering - The Ordinary Moments

My nan has Alzheimer's. It is a cruel disease. It makes you forget the most important things, it makes you forget who you are and who you care about. It makes you scared and depressed. And it just keeps on getting worse, day by day.
 
 

 
I don't get to see my nan often. She lives in Finland (my home country) and we go back there a few times a year. Every time I go back she is a little bit worse. It is heart-breaking to see, not so much because I feel sad, but because I can see how it makes her feel, scared and alone, not knowing what is happening around her. 
 
I am not sure she knows who I am anymore. Or who my daughter is. I know she knows we are important to her, somehow. And I do notice that when she does see us, she perks up. Almost like she remembers us, something, the past once again.
 
 
 
 
These pictures are precious to me because they show my nan interacting with my daughter, her great-grand-daughter. Like it should be, without the disease. She smiles, she is happy, she gets excited. Suddenly she is connected with the world again, with us, and she is there. Her old personality is there. She is in quite a bad way nowadays, and she can't form sentences or say much anything. But sometimes just seeing her great-grand-daughter, she says something. Is there, present with us.  
 
When I was pregnant my nan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It was 2012. She started to forget things. She would sometimes think I was her daughter, and sometimes she would remember who I was. When I visited her she was excited to talk about the pregnancy and the soon-to-be-here baby. When I left she touched my tummy and said next time I should come back with the baby. She understood what it was all about and what would be happening, and that made me happy..
 
The next time I came back with her great-grand-daughter. It was autumn 2013. My nan loved her instantly, held her in her arms and chatted to her. Connected with her. The next time we came back, February 2014, she had practically lost her ability to speak. But when she held my daughter in her arms, my nan cooed at her, tickled her under her chin and said "Look at you there". Fully-formed sentence, something she had not said in a long time.
 
This time, July 2014, she didn't say anything anymore. But she held her, cuddled her, and looked at her. She knew this baby was important. Maybe she knew it was her great-grand-daughter, maybe not. But I do know my nan knows this is someone important to her. Every time my nan sees my daughter, my nan perks up, and my nan is there with us again, even for just a fleeting moment.
 
I don't want to forget those tiny little glimpses of her old personality shining through, peeking through and despite the disease. Those little ordinary moments we managed to steal from the disease. Because they are important and I cherish them.
  
(Linking with The Ordinary Moments)

10 comments:

  1. What a sad but poignant post. I think Alzheimers is one of the cruelest diseases imaginable, not least for the people who have to watch their loved one go through it. My husbands gran got it and it was just awful and a close family friend got it very young and recently passed away. It's awful. I hope that you cherish these photos of your Nan- they are beautiful.

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    1. It is, it is hard to watch people wither away. So sad. It touches so many families, and so many lives. So sorry for your loss, it must have been difficult to see two people close to you get the disease.

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  2. My grandma needed fulltime care for the last few years of her life due to Alzheimers. You're right, it is a cruel disease

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    1. My nan is in a care home now as well. My grandfather wasn't able to take care of her anymore, it was too tough on him as he is an old man too. But he visits her everyday and often brings her back home for the day too.

      I am sorry for your loss :(

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  3. My gosh this post has me in tears. It really is a cruel cruel disease, awful to witness loved ones to suffer with and as you said it must truly be terrifying to have it yourself. These pictures really are wonderful it's so wonderful that you have them and how amazing that your daughter brought out words in your nan when she hasn't spoken for some time (I got goosebumps reading that part).

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    1. Writing some of the bits got me a bit tearful too :( It is a terrible disease - I feel so sorry for people that have got this disease. My nan felt awful about it too, and when she was still able to have a discussion said how she feels horrible knowing she is slowly losing her mind. But I hope these moments we share have been happy for her and have helped her.

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  4. What a sad post :( and I completely understand it, as my Granda has Alzeimers himself before it sadly took him a few years ago. It s ahorrible disease and one that's so hard to watch a loved one go through. My Granda knew no one by my Dad - they do say the oldest memories are the last to go so my Dad {his eldest} was the only one he knew. But with my children, like your Nan with yours, my Granda perked up, he played with them {when he could} and it was such a joy to watch my little people bring a smile to a very old and sadly, ill mans face. xx

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    1. My nan sometimes remembers my dad (and her other kids too). It is lovely to see her recognise them, even if it happens less and less nowadays. How wonderful it must have been that he was able to meet your kids and that your kids were able to bring him such joy and happiness, and help him feel a bit better again... I am so sorry for your loss.

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  5. This post really touched me because my Nan also has this evil disease and 9 weeks ago I gave birth to my son, her first great-grand-child. It breaks my heart that she doesn't know who he is, but she kind of understood that he's a baby and she tried to coo over him, although was a little heavy handed! Pictures like yours and the ones I took with my Nan and Toby are ones to treasure through the darkness of an absolutely devastating disease xx

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    1. So sorry, it is really hard to watch someone dear to you to go through Alzheimer's. I am glad that your Nan has managed to meet your baby, even if she doesn't necessarily know who he is, I am sure she enjoyed meeting her. Those pictures are to cherish forever...

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