Late yesterday my aunt called and asked if I could come visit my grandmother in Athens. She said Grandma was getting more confused and had a bad day on Monday. As I was off work today, I did as I was asked and went to visit.
She's had a gradual worsening of her memory ever since she started having strokes, but even after the first one or two she was still "there." It just took a little longer to communicate while she searched for words. My aunt told me that lately Grandma's been having trouble remembering names of people and how they're related to her and each other. I'm not talking about cousins here. I'm talking about her daughters and grandchildren. She also forgot that one of her sisters was still alive. Anyway, I was prepared for some of the questions she asked me today, like what was my brother's name. Others I was less prepared for. She asked about my father, who died rather suddenly several years ago. She didn't ask how he was (thank goodness), but where was he now? I told her the truth. He's in Birmingham still. I am so thankful she didn't ask any other questions as I'm not sure how I would have handled them. I figure at this point if she still thinks he's alive and living not too far away it's ok. He was her son-in-law, so it's not like she's expecting him to come visit.
My aunt also warned me not to expect Grandma to be able to carry a conversation. She really can't handle her end of one anymore and gets upset when she has to try. However, she likes people to come visit and talk, but you also have to be careful not to talk about anything that might upset her. I tell you, that's difficult. You have to keep talking and not expect any reply. She does try to, and she has a very difficult time putting her thoughts and words together.
I think my aunt and uncle are two of the most amazing, loving people. They take such good care of my grandmother. I sat there, brain gone blank, without a clue about what to talk about. At least I had my knitting, so I could knit and Grandma could watch. She liked the colors I was using, so I could at least entertain her some.
It is so tough watching someone who used to be so active, creative and smart lose themselves this way. At least she seems happy, most of the time.