"I think my in-laws. . . are dead."
Those words, spoken from a nonagenarian, indicated a reversal in time in her mind. By the time she reached centenarian status, great-great grandchildren never existed; great-grandchildren were forgotten; grandchildren were familiar only in a vague, "I've seen you somewhere before" sort of way, and even her own children, long established as Pat and Jim, reverted back to being Patty and Jimmy.
|Photo: Grandma on her 100th birthday|
Though the Alzheimer's robbed her of her more recent memories and returned her to increasingly-younger stages of her life, that awful disease could not erase our memories of her as a fiercely independent, hard-working, intelligent woman with a can-do attitude, who treated everyone kindly. She's the one who wired the upstairs of the old farmhouse after checking out a how-to electrician's book from the library; the one who learned to play the piano after retirement; the one who faithfully attended water aerobics into her 80's; the one who stayed up-to-date with computers until the Alzheimer's prevented it; and the one who always--even now--has a smile and soft-spoken word for anyone.
I do not know how far back in time Alzheimer's will take her--she is already talking more about her mama--but I do hope that she can somehow realize during her return to childhood that there are many people who love and admire her, and who recognize her depth of character.
Thanks for memories, even when we lose our own.