These Four Generations
Four generations. This picture is quite the dream come true for me. I didn't really expect for my Grandma to still be here on earth with us when I had another child, let alone a little girl. But here it is. My beautiful Grandma looking poised, knowing and regal. Behind those blue eyes though is a beautiful mind lost in the fog.
Six years ago the facade she had been carefully keeping slipped away and dementia changed her life and ours. About a year before that, I was blessed enough to receive a powerful impression that I needed to ensure I spent as much time with her as I could. It was amazing timing really. For the first time in six years I was living in the same city and was having trouble finding work so had time on my hands. I would head over to her house, as beloved to me as my childhood home, and we would talk and garden and eat ice cream. She would get me to do odd sewing tasks for her and move things from here to there. When I think of that time I can feel the heat of the sun on my skin, the smell of balmy days sitting in her huge backyard.
I began to notice that she was particularly open with me. She would share things about her life and marriage I'd never heard before. Insights that being newly married myself were fascinating and powerful for me. She asks me to take her driving around her town and would point out houses she liked or should have bought, streets she had walked down and beaches she loved. She was very real about things. At the time I thought that was because I was now a married women but I actually think that her mind couldn't so easily censor her thoughts.
My whole life my Grandma was a grand and immovable fixture. What most saw was a strong, tough, stern women, filled with conviction about what was right and an unwavering testimony of the gospel. While some Grandma's bought lollies to church for their Grandchildren mine bought expectations, about how to dress, speak and behave. I remember being horrified as a youth when she told the boy I had a crush on not to make 'eyes' at me while passing the sacrament (if only!)! She was strong in her convictions yes, but what not everyone had the privileged to see and know was the whole women. A women who gave her life to her seven children, their children and the gospel. A businesswomen, a gifted gardener, tennis player, seamstress, painter and swimmer. She was a true, loyal and unwavering friend. She made awful vegetable pizza and amazing apple crumble. She loved my father as if he was her own son and always saved treats for him when he would stop in to visit her. She loved seeing and rejoiced in people making good decisions. To me she was someone I could ask advice, get a hug and the example of what it is to be a strong women in this world.
It's impossibly tragic to lose someone you love to dementia. But my mum has often expressed how wonderful it is to just have her there. She can't advise us, solve our problems, teach us, pull us into line, converse or comfort. But she can be, and we can love her not for what she gives but for her spirit and the life she has lived. I have seen at times and mum more than most some incredibly beautiful moments. Like a little girl she will snuggle up into her blankets, tenderly hold a baby, recall a past memory or thoroughly enjoy an ice cream. The beauty of her spirit is there. I wish with all my heart that I could turn to her now in my struggles. I'd ask her how on earth she raised seven children and remained sane. I'd get her to tell me of her faith and how it buoyed her up through her life. I'd tell her about my dreams and ask if if they all sound like good ideas. I have her tell a story. I'd give her a hug...I love you Grandma.