By Eidolyn Ravenscroft
Staring out upon the deep blue sky as the white cloud dance by her mind tries to grasp onto yesterday. Time is shown through her slightly wrinkled face and her pure white hair makes her appear much older then she actually is. She seems oblivious to airplanes landing and the bustle of people around her. I watch her as her eyes peered outward trying to reach something she once had as a tear rolls down my cheek. I do not know her name but I do know she is lost among the sea of lost time that she can no longer recall clearly. She looked around her with the face of a lost child and I slowly approached her with my hand extended outward. “Do I know you?, she asks as she takes my hand. “No, but I feel you may need some help.” Her head slightly nods yes and it made me feel she was a bit ashamed of herself. “Do not worry I need help allot, according to my family that is.’” Her tiny laugh made me feel a bit at ease and I asked her what her name was. She paused for about eight minutes before saying Sarah in a soft toned voice. “My name is Eidolyn,” I said and she smiled. “Are you looking for someone? I asked.” She looked unsure although she shook her head yes and I assured her that I would help her find the person. I could feel how scared she was because she could not remember whose name she was looking for. It was a cruel fate that time seems to be being erased for her as minutes go by. My husband Kei offered to go the customer’s desk to see if anyone was looking for a older woman named Sarah. I pulled out a unopened bottled water and asked if she would like it. As she took it, she began to tell a story from what part of her past she could remember.
In 1938 I married the man that I would share my life with until the day he died. We were childhood sweethearts and boy did we cause trouble whenever we could but now I can hardly remember his face. It seems like back then we had all the time in the world but now it feels as if time is now running out. I cannot remember the simple things anymore, she said as a tear rolled down her pale cheek. Soon more tears flowed freely down her face and words seemed to escape me for what can you say when someone is fighting Alzheimer’s. I know the doctors have told me what I have but I cannot understand it, her words came through her on going tears. I think they call it Alzheimer’s but you know there are those whom can be your memory for you, I said without a blink. But looking back now, I knew that we could only be parts of their memory for not all of us were there at the beginning of their life. She went on saying how hard it was for her to remember his smell or the touch of his hand in hers. Simple memories for whom we are not facing Alzheimer’s take for granted are the most precious to her. “Did you have any children?” I asked risking it would case her pain. “I have a daughter and one son, my daughter is 15 now and my son is 20.” Inside I shed a tear knowing that could not have any children that age now but yet slightly happy she could remember them a little.
Kei, watched as a frantic looking middle-aged woman rushed up to him in answer to intercom announcement about Sarah. A frantic middle-aged woman ran up to counter asking the receptionist about the person whom was asking about a woman named Sarah. “Ma’am I was, and Kei described the woman to make sure they were talking about the same person. She sighed in a relieved tone and asked Kei to take her to her Mother. “May I ask something of you first Ma’am?, Kei was unsure he should ask a personal question but he needed to know. She looked worried and answered, “if you are going to ask about her mental state I shall tell you now it is Alzheimer’s.” “I see, Kei replied.” “Is she alright?,” the woman asked in a concerned voice. “Yes, what is your name? I’m Kei and your Mother is with my wife Eidolyn.” “I’m Mary and please can we go to my Mother now?, I am very worried about her.” Her tone sounded slightly guilty but understandable as Kei remembered back to when I watched my Grandmother go through the same thing. “Sure, but she does seem a bit confused and upset and rest assured that your Mother is in good hands.” “Thank you, I’m glad such kind people found her but it was my fault for turning away for one second and then she was gone.” Kei, patted her back and guided her to where her Mother and I were.
“Looking back on the memory of the dance we shared under the moonlight I would have never known that my mind would become shattered,” she whispered. I see my late Grandmother in her and my mind goes back to the stories of how my Great Grandmother was not going to live past nine years old due to double leakage of the heart. Not only did she live past that age but got married at 22 and went into labor for two weeks with my Grandmother. I bet the doctors would have been surprised to know my Great Grandmother lived 85 years. “I giggled out loud which surprised Sarah. “Something funny, Sarah asked and I explained that I too was visiting my past and told her of my Grandmother and Great Grandmother.” Sarah’s face brightened with her beautiful soft smile and for a brief moment it seemed like the sun was shining again for Sarah. Even though they have brief moments when the sun shines soon it begins to come around less and less as the disease takes them away from us. “Mary, scrapped her knee and I would put a bandage on it and when Sam scrapped his knee we had to rush him to the ER because if we didn’t he would bleed to death.” “He is a hemophiliac and that is so scary for us that I pray every day that he won’t cut himself or get into an accident.” Her tears began to roll down the worn path of wrinkles upon her face. My heart truly skipped a beat as her warm loving words flowed from her pale quivering lips. A huge wave of helplessness swept over me like a tsunami sweeping my away into oblivion of despair. I hated this disease more then I have ever hated anything in my entire life and I imagined her family felt the same way. My fist clenched tightly as Kei walked up to me with Sarah’s daughter. Kei could tell what was going through my mind as he gently touched my shoulder. My facial expression told the story of my own pain of watching my beautiful Grandmother slowly being erased by a disease I could not destroy nor fight against. ‘Kei tapped and whispered into my ear that Mary was her daughter.’ ‘I rose asked Sarah if she minded that Kei could sit with her for a moment while I went to the bathroom.’ She look freighted for a brief second then her child like smile rose as she looked blankly at Mary. I nodded to Mary to come with me to bathroom and she nodded yes back.
‘I am sorry that you had to see my Mother like that but I take it you noticed she is not mentally okay.’ Mary said as we hit the bathroom her tone was apologetic and full of hurt. ‘Mary, my own Grandmother suffered with Alzheimer’s also and it was so hard watching her beautiful soul disappear each day I visited her.’ ‘I cannot know exactly what you are going through right now Mary but I know it is the hardest path we have to walk.’ Mary began crying uncontrollably and I embraced her gently. I knew that anger because I felt at this disease that robs us of our loved ones leaving the body. I remember back seeing how her facial expressions were slowly becoming more and more child like leaving behind the fading memories of a Grandmother that I knew. How could life be so cruel to a woman whom was strong and fought against the odds that life threw her way? Now, she can hardly remember the husband whom walked 63 ½ years of life with her. “Why did God do this to my Mother?”, Mary cried. “God did not do this to your Mother, I answered.” Mary gave me a shocked looked. “How could you not be angry at God?” Mary stated with an enraged tone. “Do you believe in God, Mary?” I asked with a straight face. “Before answering that I would like to tell you that I do believe in God.” “I call God Great Spirit and for me my faith is a important part of whom I am.” I looked at as her enraged expression sternly focused upon every word I said. “It is my belief that Great Spirit would not inflict my loving Grandmother with this most cruel twist of fate.” “Great Spirit is not so cruel that he would punish such a beautiful woman for whom had been blessed with a warm loving family.” Her expression relaxed slightly and I knew she needed to blame someone for her Mother having Alzheimer’s. “I believe that our body is the one that turns against us not the Great Spirit’s doing.” “Do you believe that Great Spirit is Cruel?” Mary gasped and felt heaviness take over her body as if someone had hit her square in the chest.
“How do you say goodbye to someone whom is still here in body only?” I asked that question to myself everyday I saw my Grandmother slowly losing her mind. It was like she was dead even though her body still holds a heartbeat and takes in air.
How can you call it living when she cannot form a coherent sentence anymore? They say time heals all wounds but time can never heal someone with Alzheimer’s and maybe someday it can but that day is not today. I am going on without her but with each step I try to keep the memory of her alive for I never want to forget the wonderful woman whom I am honored to her Granddaughter. The times when she took our hand and walked us to the river bank so we could swim until the sun went down. Even the times when a childlike expression took over leaving chaos running through her mind I shall remember her that way as well. I am reminded of the poem Footprints during those times when I felt that I am walking alone I remember that Great Spirit is carrying me and her. Great Spirit did not give her this awful disease nor does the Great Spirit like seeing her go through this too. I believe with my whole being that Great Spirit hugs her along with those whom love her although they are no longer among the living. Despite the pain getting more real with each breath I take I keep walking on not stopping. They are within my being and I carry them with me always keeping piece’s of them alive. I walk into her home to see empty rooms except for the memories of her laughter, tears, and even anger. Her essence fills the rooms and embraces my own spirit but yet I crave for those good night kisses and hugs. Yes, it is cruel for anyone to suffer from Alzheimer’s but I do believe Great Spirit would never strike anyone with that kind of cruelty because Great Spirit is a loving being. No, I do not have proof that Great Spirit exists other then I feel it within my heart that there is a Creator above. I stopped and looked upon Mary’s face to see tears streaming freely down her pale cheek bones. I handed her a handkerchief and pulled out a photo of my Grandmother and Grandfather when they were young and showed it to her. This is how I remember them because they are both smiling and their love for each other truly shows in this picture.
Mary took out a old photo of her and her brother Sam when they were kids having a snowball fight. Taking another photo she handed me the two photos and I looked at the second photo to see it was Sam’s gravestone. Mary began talking, ‘Sam had just turned 20 when he died. We all feared that someday he would cut himself and bleed to death but he drowned to death. He had jumped into a lake to save a young boy whom fell of a boat. A sudden storm arose and knocked the boy out so Same jumped in after him. Sam got the boy in the boat but a sudden huge wave swept Sam under but he hit his head on the side of the boat. It was determined that it had rendered him unconscious as he sank down. ‘Her tears flowed exposing her pang countenance.’ ‘Her voice began to shake as she continued her story.’ ‘Mom was the one whom identified Sam even though my Uncle was the one whom was Sam at the time of his death. Mother need forgave her brother for killing her son.’ Those word rang out in sharp painful tones and I wiped her tears. ‘Sam was the one whom asked my Uncle to take him out that day in fact he practically begged. Mother did not want him to go she was so worried about him cutting himself accidentally. Mother never truly forgave herself for giving into him that day.” “I did not have the words to comfort her and the heaviness within my heart grew with each passing minute.” Mary could not hold back her tears which began flowing freely.
“We walk this life not knowing what will be lurking around the corner but that does not prevent us from turning the corner. There is the unknown that every human being born into this life faces but we never see it until we are hit in the face with it. When I realized that my Grandmother’s mind was not working right I chalked it all up to old age. Never did I want to face the fact someday she would not know whom I am nor love me because I was a stranger now.” I lowered my head to try to hold back those memories of her final days but they must be told now. ‘My Grandmother’s face shall always remain with me for as long as I live and it is not a face that I wish to remember.’ My words shook as I tried to calmly speak them. ‘I have picture’s of her on her high school graduation and she was so beautiful and full of life back then. But when I look back at the last couple years of her life I only see how much of her spirit was erased by Alzheimer’s and how it killed my heart each time I noticed more of her was disappearing. How could God be so cruel? That question never once entered my mind nor was it that long ago that it would have. I know that Great Spirit whom I call God would be as heartbroken as I was to see his child go through that. We often ask why then would God allow such a horrible disease to exist? Why not? We cannot have a world where everything is all peaches and cream because what kind of life would that truly be. Yes, I would love a world where there was not people willing to murder another person. But that is not the world we live in for whatever reason we have horrors in life but we must never forget the beautiful things in life. I feel that without one or the other there truly cannot be a life for humans.
Mary did not know how to respond to my words nor did she seem surprised by them. Funny how we are not willing to face the truth until someone else’s shows it to us.
NOTE:Not finished just need your always honest opinions. Thank you.