It’s hard to believe that within 2 months of losing my Grammy, my other grandmother- my Nana- has now passed away.
I had the chance to speak at her funeral and I spoke about the shift in understanding people as you get older. I have very fond memories of my grandmother from my childhood. My more vivid memories of her are those I made as an adult. She was very good to me when I moved to Massachusetts. She would pick me up at the T stop by their house (our subway system for those who don’t know) and take me on errands, out to eat, or even just let me spend time with them. After about 3 years our roles shifted and I was taking care of her more than she of me. I did get to see her a few days before she passed. I am glad I did, but I knew when I saw her it may be the last time.
My Nana was not the most avid reader. Both my grandfathers are the big readers. Nana was a knitter. I don’t often talk about my knitting here, but I am sure that will happen. One of the big reasons I listen to so many audiobooks is so I can knit and read at the same time.
For me, the way she declined in the last 10 years has been the most anxiety inducing thing. She lived for 94 years, but for the last 10 years she suffered from dementia. I watched as she gave up her knitting and her mind shut down. Being a reader, in my world, is an element of something larger. My being a reader is evidence of the value I put in my mind. I read to keep it active, to increase my knowledge, to help generate new ideas, and to help me process other things happening in my life. My mind is the most important part of me. I want to be valued for my mind over my body. To lose my mind is my biggest fear. I actually could deal with insanity better than I could deal with dementia or alzheimer’s. My mind functioning differently seems far better than my mind being erased.
I don’t know if there is a way to fight these diseases. I know we like to think that keeping our mind active or improving our neuroplasticity can help. I am not sure we can stop it though. I just know I don’t want the way I die to be because my body no longer remembers how to work.