Friday, October 16, 2009

Taking Time To Remember

One of the main reasons I'm running the NY Marathon - and raising money for the Alzheimer's Association - is in memory of my Nana.

When I started this journey over four months ago, I wanted to do three things leading up to the race - 1) train for the race, 2) raise money for the Alzheimer's Association and 3) do some activities which will help me to remember my Nana.

I have been very diligent on items 1 and 2 so far. Unfortunately, I have not taken the time for item 3. Last night I finally started.

The other day I saw that HBO Family was airing a show called "The Alzheimer's Project: Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?" so I had my DVR record it. I was about to cue up "Glee" for Sherry and me to watch last night when I saw this show in the list. Since Sherry was not ready yet, I decided to watch it.

The 30 minute show interviews a bunch of children ranging in age from 6 to 15 who have grandparents with Alzheimer's disease. Some of the grandparents are in early stages - grandpa forgets the grandkid's names or names of places, but he is still getting around fine and understands what is going on around's just that the words to describe these people or places seem to have "disappeared". Other grandparents are in much later stages - confined to wheelchairs, barely speaking, not even recognizing their loved ones. It was a powerful show and a great way for tweens and teens to understand what the disease is and why their grandparents are acting the way that they are.

The show opened up a pandora's box of emotions for me. I saw my Nana in all of those stages. I was a bit too young to remember the early stages of the disease, but I do have distinct memories of her at that time....I just had no idea that her memory was going and that she was becoming very paranoid.

I have too many memories of the later stages of the disease. I remember visiting Nana at the nursing home. I remember when we would have funny conversations (I once tried to explain to her about my new Atari video game and she was really confused as to how the players got inside the television!). Unfortunately, I remember as a tween and then as a teen it got to the point where she was too confused to carry on a conversation - and then to the point where she couldn't talk much at all.

Tonight I may have a chance to continue to evoke memories of my Nana. I am driving up to the NY area and staying with my cousin tonight. He was the oldest of my Nana's grandparents so he probably has the most vivid memories of her before the disease took hold. I'm hoping we can spend some time (between innings of the Yankees game?) reminiscing of times we had with our Nana.

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