Last year I was affected by Alzheimer’s in an incredible, yet heartbreaking way.
I took on the job as a caregiver during the day for an elderly lady that had Alzheimer’s. I did not think twice about taking the job, and just thought it would be the same as sitting with my grandma all day. I was wrong. The first week I will admit, it was hard. Caring for her wasn’t hard, although there were times I was stressed to the max, but I didn’t want her to know. It was seeing how Alzheimer’s affected people with it, and their loved ones. I cared for her all summer, and it was the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I decided to write a letter to express how much love I have in my heart for her, and to say this: Alzheimer’s might affect the person, but it does not make them any less of a person. This special woman might never know how much she changed my life, but she’s been on my heart lately so I wanted to write this post. I hope maybe one person will read this and realize that if they have someone in their life that has been affected by this disease, that this person is still capable of love.
Dear Mrs. Earline,
You changed my life in so many ways. You’ll never know how much of an impact you made on me. I remember the first day I stayed with you. You were so sweet. Almost the whole summer you assumed I was either a nurse, your physical therapist, or an old friend. I was fine being assigned any of those roles. It didn’t sadden me that you didn’t always remember my name, and I got used to answering to Miss, Young lady, and friend.
You were always amazing company. You would tell me stories for hours and the next day tell them again. That was okay. I loved hearing about your life. You’ve lived an amazing life and I’m glad I got to spend three months of them with you.
You always made me laugh. Even on the days I wasn’t feeling the best, you made me smile. I never knew someone could love my cooking. I typically burn toast, so for you to truly enjoy my grilled cheeses made me happy. I used to joke that if my future husband enjoyed my cooking as much as you did, they’d be pretty happy, because you’re the first person to ever compliment my ability to cook cereal.
And that was something I loved about you. Even the little things, you were grateful. You were so grateful for the cup of coffee and medication I would bring you every morning. You were grateful for the simple things in life.
You taught me patience. I won’t lie, patience was hard in the beginning, but I had to realize that you couldn’t help the fact that this disease was taking over. It wasn’t your fault. I had to learn that. I had to learn how to be patient in all things.
You were so happy. Your happiness shined through and impacted everyone around you. I won’t forget the day I took you to the nail and hair salon. You loved being pampered and I loved seeing you get pampered. You truly enjoyed every minute of it. When we got home, you stepped out of my car, and saw your shadow on the ground and jumped and said, “oh my! I almost didn’t recognize myself with my new haircut.” You always made me laugh with your little comments. There was never a dull moment with you.
One thing you might not know is that you were the friend I needed that summer. I had my heart broken one of the days I was sitting with you. I tried to hold the tears back, but eventually I had to let them out. I didn’t want you to get upset, so I left the room. When I returned, you said one of your little jokes and it instantly put a smile on my face. You didn’t know it, but you were helping me through a really hard time.
I cried a lot on my rides home because it was hard seeing someone I had grown to love like a second grandma, going through this. Then you moved into a nursing home, and I moved away for college. We both went our separate ways, and I then cried because of the thought of not seeing you everyday. I miss your goodbye hugs you would give me every day as I was walking out the door, and I would reassure you that I would be back the next day. Fridays were hard because I had to explain to you how it would be two days before I’d be back. But you told me you looked forward to Monday coming, and honestly I did too.
I wish you could know how much you changed my life. You taught me patience, kindness, humor and most importantly love. You taught me so much, and I want to thank you for that.
The last time I saw you, you introduced me to someone as having practically adopted me, and if I’m being honest, I’ve adopted you as my grandma. You hold such a special place in my heart, and you always will.
I love you, forever and always,
Brittany (the nurse/therapist/friend that makes the best cereal and grilled cheeses ever)