2016 was a bad year period. It didnot deliver on its promise but I do not complain about that, nobody said living would be easy. But sometimes I wish- and I am prone to wishing-that something just goes right for once, such that when I look back, I can smile upon that one event that went right. But no, 2016 ensured that it will take away every tiny bit of happiness out of me. But well, I just have to accept it as it is.
Normally there is that one person(s) that you know and believe that they will always be there for you. They might not actually do anything but their presence makes everything better and normal. That person might be a friend or a family member. For me, my tower of strength, my anchor has always been my grandmother.I would stay away from home for a while wandering here and there but I would be sure that the moment I get home and see my Granny, everything would be just fine. She was that constant in our lives. Granted that in her yester years, she was a drama queen but in the late nineties she became that person I would always look forward to spending time with her. She was our memory, through her, I got to meet the other half of the family tree that I never actually met. She was my link to the other world, always talking about my great grandfather and all the departed souls as if they just lived yesterday. Through her, I got to know my late grandfather better, though dead these last 16 years, she would always talk poignantly about him- a man who was aloof for most of the years that I knew him- she would humanise him to a point I would wonder whether she talked about the same man that I knew. That was the joy of meeting her every time I went home. Her stories. Her memories.Our memories. Her mind. Clear as the day she lived those experiences.
Now, December 2016. She sits across from me but my heart breaks into tiny little pieces. She does recognise me and every other member of the family even the new additions but that is about it. Inside her head, confusion reigns. When you sit with her and you remember who she was a year ago and listen to her wanderings, a mind that is jumbled up, and a spirit that longs for a rest, then realization hits you that she is no longer the person you knew.
When you sit across from her, and instead of listening to the greatest storyteller, your job is to sieve through all the disjointed wanderings and bring her mind to the present, and when you look at her and you see the sadness that is etched in her face because of all these faces that are clammering for her attention, faces and sounds only she can see and recognise, strangers that she feels she is letting them down because she cannot attend to them, then it dawns on you that she lives in the past, a past that is her present and there is nothing any of us can do to pull her from that confusion.
My grandmother is no longer the person I used to know but as much is it makes me sad and breaks my heart, I have to learn to love her the way she is now. The joy of hearing her call my name, the thought of her presence still here with us makes me love her the more.The confusion might eventually overwhelm her, as the doctor predicts but she will always be that one person who I love wholeheartedly, the one person who taught me my roots.
As 2017 rolls by my only prayer is that she lives in good health, Alzheimer’s aside and that she doesn’t loose that tiny grasp of reality that is remaining.