May 17, 2011

hard to say

a post i've tossed around for nearly a year, and it's still hard to put all of what i feel into words...
"Life without memory is no life at all... Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action." Luis Bunuel
some days i want to run away to my grandma's house. curl up in my mom's old bed. load up on ice cream from the "secret" fridge. laugh while the washer dances across the kitchen. eat peppermints from the china cabinet. wonder if she's ever actually fired that shotgun

but then i remember my grandma doesn't live there anymore. the house has been sold. everything has been given away, thrown away or boxed up for "when we have time" to go through them. we drove by the street she used to live on, the street my mom grew up on, and i felt a twinge. excitement followed by great sadness. my grandma doesn't live there anymore...
"But a man does not consist of memory alone. He has feeling, will, sensibilities, moral being-matters of which neuropsychology cannot speak." - AR Luria quoted in Sacks
and my 100 year old grandma doesn't always recognize me. her me-chelle is not 27. she can't identify us immediately on a good day or at all on a bad one. christmas was a bad day; last saturday was moderately better. if you remind her of things, she knows. she laughs and that mischievous sparkle returns. my granny is one sassy lady not to be messed with. she's a shrunken version of herself, but she's still in there. she wasn't the most coherent, but she still had her little comments. her face is still so expressive. i know she's still in there, but i also know she's fading
"but if he has lost a self-himself-he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it." - Sacks
she doesn't remember my growing up. and i don't remember her growing old. i saw a sprint commercial about a 100 year old getting birthday wishes from the internets, and i wanted to reach through the tv to throttle her. i don't believe for a second she's 100. she's more like my 80something year old auntie. my family is not the picture of health, but my granny has outlived a lot of people, including that nut jack lalanne. she doesn't have alzheimer's or dementia. she's not bedridden or on oxygen. she has health concerns, but nothing that's going to kill her. however, i have a very hard time believing these 100 year old people who end up on the tv. no one is that healthy after living a century

she had a cough on saturday, and i was terrified this was it. i'm still scared that it's going to be soon. pretty much, i think that every time will be the last time... i probably wouldn't be as freaked out if we saw her more frequently. once a year is not enough, but it's all we can manage. in just five months, she's changed so much it seems. all of it makes me so incredibly sad

today is officially her 100th birthday. i hope the universe doesn't feel tempted to take her just yet. whenever the universe is ready, i ask only that it be quick and painless, preferably in her sleep. my grandma lived a hard life; she shouldn't have to endure a hard death
grandma, happy birthday. thank you for everything. i love you - mimi