It was a long 6 years of wondering when the inevitable would occur, where, how and lastly, why. No one in my family wanted to face the truth?especially me. I acted as if nothing was wrong and that everything would be back to normal overnight. Reality hit me on July 1st, 2012 at 9:17PM when I answered the telephone. It was my grandmother asking to speak to my father. I knew something wasn't right since she never called at that hour. I put the pieces together and realized what the phone call was about. My grandfather had taken his last breath.
I didn't believe that my grandfather was gone; I thought it was all a horrible nightmare. After he took his last breath in the comfort of his own home, my grandmother called every family member to come and see my grandfather before the funeral home took his body. I never had the chance to say my final goodbye, but honestly, I didn't want to. As cruel as it sounds, I didn't want to see my grandfather lifeless, cold to the touch and with gray-colored skin from lack of blood flow. That isn't how I wanted to remember my grandfather. I wanted to remember him as the man who loved to sit in his recliner to watch the birds outside the window, the man who called his grandchildren "rugrats" instead of by their real name and the man who loved to collect antique bottles and coins. I didn't want this memory of how I remembered him tarnished, so while my entire family was up there, I was sitting at home; emotionless.
When my grandfather was diagnosed, I stopped going up to his house as much as possible. If I had to go there, I would refrain myself from looking at or speaking to him. I don't think he knew I was purposely avoiding any contact with him because, in a sense, he was already gone. Having people in his house that he did not recognize made him extremely anxious and upset, which is why I tried not going there. When his son was visiting one day, my grandfather actually beat him over the head with newspapers because he thought his son was an intruder. My uncle stopped visiting after that incident, and I don't blame him. We were all scared for my grandmother's safety because my grandfather could get violent at any moment. Even though his movements were very slow to the point where he probably couldn't injure anyone, it was the thought that he could hurt his own wife that made us all uneasy.
Before my grandfather passed away, he didn't understand what was going on throughout his body for many years. He almost thought that he deteriorating and my grandmother doing everything for him was normal. Actually, for the last few months of his life, he thought my grandmother was his sister. He didn't know he had a wife of over 60 years, 6 children, 11 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. All he knew was his first name and he seemed fine with that. I wasn't fine with that, though. Truthfully, I was mad that he didn't remember anyone. How could this man who was in his 70's forget the people he had known their entire life? How could he forget me, his granddaughter, who lived right down the road? I didn't understand any of this even though I was old enough to know it wasn't his fault. He didn't ask to have this disease, he didn't ask to forget everything he knew, and he didn't ask to become completely dependent on someone to take care of him. He didn't deserve this, yet no one in the world does. Alzheimer's Disease took my grandfather's life away from right under his feet without warning. Although his brain didn't remember anyone, I know his heart did. That is all that matters to me.