The Fleeting, Beautiful Walk We Are On

The Fleeting, Beautiful Walk We Are On

My grandmother was able to make one last trip to visit our home, when I was in college. This was before Alzheimer’s Disease kept her, first, at home with a caretaker and, then, in a nursing facility. The hardworking farmer – who could cook for a crew, then don a pair of overalls over her dress to go out and feed the cattle – found the simplest of tasks increasingly confusing and tiring. The voracious reader was already past forgetting where her glasses were (on top of her head) and instead sometimes wondered what glasses were for. The woman – who had loved to warble all the songs of her youth – needed help recalling all the words. And the reliably pleasant, accommodating grandmother – whose harshest words were: “Oh, sugar!” – was moody, sometimes petulant and prone to fits of destructive anger. One day during the visit, my mother took her mother out to run some errands. Gramma’s energy flagged quickly and my mother decided to duck into one last store on her own. When she came out, Gramma was slumped against the car door and appeared to be sleeping. She didn’t stir as my mother got into the car and didn’t respond to her name. My mother shook her and she still wouldn’t rouse. Alarmed, my mother drove to her own doctor, a few blocks away, and dashed inside. A nurse ran out. When she opened the car door, my grandmother slumped over. The nurse quickly checked vitals, then looked up and began to say, gently, “I’m sorry…” At which moment, my grandmother sat up straight and...