When I fell in love with dementia….
Many, (many), years ago, when I was 16 or 17, my grandmother was visiting our family from her home in Covington, Kentucky. She made the trip to Atlanta a few times a year, and we usually spent holidays in Kentucky with her and Grandpa.
It was a beautiful day in Atlanta, and Grandma and I sat together on the screened in porch swing talking and reminiscing, with my mom sitting a few feet away needle pointing and listening.
Grandma was amazed at how different my life as a teenager was than hers and proceeded to tell me a story… Back in the day when she was a teenager, (many, many, many, years ago) she and her friends would go to dances down by the Ohio river. The girls in their poodle skirts and the boys in their coats and ties would dance the night away. Her eyes lit up and her smile was huge as she continued to remember dancing under the gazebo, the lights, and the breeze of the cool evening air. I could just picture it! I teased her a bit and asked her if she ever kissed a boy in the gazebo and she giggled, blushed, and giggled some more.
And because I thought it would be funny, I waited about 3 minutes and I said, “Grandma, tell me the story about your dances by the river”. She giggled like the young girl she was at the time and proceeded to tell me about dances by the river with the girls in their poodle skirts and the boys in their coats and ties, and the gazebo and the lights, and on the story went.
About the 3rd time of Grandma telling the story, my mom piped up and said, “that’s enough Valerie”. I think my mom thought I was making fun of Grandma. And while I admit my intentions might not have been completely pure at the second request, something happened when she told the story. Something I wanted more of. It was the complete and utter joy on my grandma’s face as she relived those memories. By now, my mom had set aside her needle point and watched as the story unfolded again and again. And every time grandma told the story she giggled and blushed and every time I hugged her and thanked her for sharing with me.
Caring for someone with memory loss is very hard so please don’t be afraid to ask for a beautiful memory. And maybe, just maybe, you will get to experience moments of complete and utter joy, again and again.
Grandma never did admit to kissing a boy in the gazebo all those years ago, but I am forever grateful for whatever caused her to twinkle, blush, and giggle as that memory will be in my heart always.