Some of my troubles this week have not been only centered around my personal and school life, but also the personal lives of two very important people to me. It's cliche to many, but my grandparents, Shirley and Larry, have a remarkable love and now, they are not doing so well. However, their love remains, no matter what.
Shirley, aka, grandma or Bubbi, has recently been showing signs of Alzheimer's and is declining quickly. Larry, my grandpa, is declining too, but not in the same way. His mind is still there (not perfect, but there) and consequently, he is dealing with the fact that Bubbi is not herself anymore and doesn't quite understand.
This past week, my grandparents moved into a retirement home in Pittsburgh, PA even with much debate and resistance from both of them. The fact is that they needed to leave for their health and they aren't in their right mind. Their home in Pittsburgh has been there's forever. My father and his siblings grew up there and unfortunately, it is a split level. This means that when they walk into their house, they have to walk up or down stairs in order to get anywhere. You can imagine how unsafe this is considering their minds and my grandpa's current physical walking ability. My father has been bringing up the idea of moving out to them for quite awhile now and the result has been that Bubbi just cries - tantrums even. It saddens me so much because, in a way, I feel like I've already lost her. She is not herself. My grandfather is still the sweetest man ever... but she is not who she was.
Bubbi is the type of person who is "quirky". In fact, if you look up "quirky" in the dictionary, you will find a picture of her. My fondest memories of visiting them was staying over and she would let me play in her "art room". In the room, there was everything from random pictures, to ribbon, to garage sale jewelry, to markers, to newspapers, and everything in between. She encouraged me (and my cousins) to make collages. She is an artist herself and mostly known for her collages. She just has this amazing ability to take different objects, pictures, her imagination, and paint to put together the most amazing portrait. I am lucky that I have some of her work posted proudly in my apartment:
Additionally, she is an actress. A fabulous one, I might add. I had the pleasure of watching one of her last performances when I was younger and visiting her in Pittsburgh. She's a natural and very funny. We will be in a conversation and she would add a joke or a funny accent in a way that only she can. She and Dan connected on that level when he first met her because he is an actor too. In fact, do you know what she said to him? She said, "Dan, the only way to the top is to sleep your way up!" She is so funny!
My grandfather and her have the most amazing marriage and love. When I ask my grandpa how he is doing he will usually say that since he has her, he is fine... and how did he get so lucky? He always asks that. I hope that someday, I end up with someone who sees me like that.
I think this is why it's so difficult. He wants to be there for her and always watches out for her. In the past (when he was in worse shape than she was), he would help her walk and make sure he walked next to her, when in reality, he needed the help walking! He always puts her in front of himself. At some point, she may have to be moved to the Alzheimer's Unit and what will he do? How will this work? I am so saddened by all of this. Alzheimer's is one of the worst things that can happen and I have never dealt with it before.
One of my favorite pictures. Clyde (my old rattie) was on my grandpa's shoulder and I told Bubbi to act scared!
showing their love at my cousin's Bar Mitzvah
For more information about Alzheimer's, go here.