Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fight for Memories

I can’t remember the last time my grandma called me by name. I can’t remember the last time she recognized my face. I can’t remember the last time she was able to host Christmas dinner. What I can remember is her hair turning from blonde to gray. I can remember Christmas dinner where she would wet herself because she couldn't help it. I can remember holding her hand as she cries and shakes. I can remember helping her shower because she couldn't do it on her own. I can remember visiting her in the nursing home and realizing that she doesn't know who I am. 

I think I was a freshman when my grandma was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. After the doctor’s confirmation, we realized that she had been showing symptoms for years now. At first it was just her misplacing her purse, locking herself out of the house, or stumbling over names of grandkids. Then it progressed into a physical as well as mental transformation that led her to resemble a shell of the person she used to be. This disease has taken an extreme toll on my family as a whole and has caused us tremendous stress, pain and other obstacles. It has turned a strong-willed, stubborn, hard-working, loving, caring woman into a ghost. 

Not all of my memories of her are ones centered around her disease. As one of the oldest grandchildren I have fond memories of her being the best grandma a little girl could ask for, which is not so true for the youngest cousins who have no memories of her that aren't centered around Alzheimer’s. I’m truly lucky to have those memories. I remember when I was little I would beg and plead with my mom to let me spend the night at her house. I loved those sleepovers with her she would put my hair in curlers at night so that way I would look pretty the morning. Sometimes my cousin Lexi and I would both stay and when it was bath time I remember she would say “Alighty girls, let’s get necked!” in her Kentucky accent. These Family holidays at grandma’s were the best because there would always be so much food. The woman never stopped cooking or cleaning, I swear. These are the times I would like to remember her by, but the majority of my life has been filled with memories of her disease. 

Nothing about having a loved one with Alzheimer’s is easy, but the toughest part is that every time I visit her in the nursing home I am left wondering if that will be the last time I get to see her. What I do know that when it is her time to go, that she gets a straight pass to Heaven after what she has been through and that is enough to bring some peace of mind. 

The special edition purple Lokai bracelet spread aims to spread awareness and to raise money to support the Alzheimer's Association which is why I bought mine to show support for my grandmother. This was inspired by the CEO of the brand, whose grandfather also suffered from the disease and he wanted to create this purple bracelet to honor him. Lokai made a minimum donation of $300,000 to the Alzheimer’s Association as well as $1 per purple bracelet sold to advance research for a cure as well as provide care for my grandma and the other 47 million people living with the disease. #FightforMemories

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