This is a paper written by my older sister, for her English class. I thought I'd share it.
Thursday, October 13, 2005 at 1 in the morning, I received the call I had been dreading and anticipating for nearly 4 years. My grandpa had passed from complications of end-stage Alzheimer's. He was now completely taken from me. I say completely because 4 years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Seemingly overnight, everything changed. It was like watching the mightiest being I had ever known lose everything important in his life. I watched month after month, as his mind, memories, dignity, and eventually his body, were taken from him. He had been in stedy decline until that early Thursday morning. My grandpa, Willie "Foy" P------, was the strongest, bravest, and most noble person I ever knew, and I miss him dearly.
In the early years, it was the little things that slipped away from him. Things like, where his keys were or where his glasses were. Sometimes he would tell me funny stories that did not seem to make sense. He would always use humor to cover up his forgetfulness. When he did not remember your name, he would intentionally call you by a silly made-up name. The names he most often used were Leroy and George. I did not realize then what was really happening. As it worsened, he began to forget more. He was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer's around 2002. He could not continue working and was granted early disability. Soon after that, he was forced to give up on his favorite hobbies. One of his favorite past times was woodworking. This became a very dangerous and difficult hobby for him. He no longer spent hours restoring cars or creating beautiful furniture. He was physically able to do these things, but mentally incapable. He just could not remember how. I think this was much more difficult for him to accept because he was still in such great shape.
By the time I was 20, about 2 years into the disease, my grandpa no longer knew my name or who I was. Grandpa still lived at home with my grandmother, which proved very difficult. As with most Alzheimer's patients, they tend to become mean, confused, and even violent to their closest loved ones. Because he was still in good physical shape, he would often wander off and walk for hours before being picked up by police officers and brought back home. Some days, he would leave because he was mad at us; others, he would not realize where he was and would just want to "go home". He had become a prisoner in his own home. All doors, windows, and gates were eventually locked to prevent him from getting out. He would still try to remove, dissemble, or even break the locks to get out again. This continue to worsen over the next 18 months.
Finally 3 months ago, due to the difficulty of providing him care and safety, grandpa was placed in a nursing home. He was no longer able to feed or bathe himself. The man who gave me a car he had restored himself, when I was 16 years old, now had to be cared for like an infant. It was heart-breaking to watch someone so strong and so proud to be unable to speak. The last time I saw him he was wasting away, having lost nearly 80 pounds. When I saw him that way I decided, it hurt too much to see the greatest person I knew suffering so terribly. The man before me was not grandpa anymore. This was just a shell of a man that resembled him. I could not stand to see him this way and wanted it to end.
In those early hours when I recieved the call, I was so sad that he was gone. I laid in bed and sobbed that morning, feeling saddened and relieved at the same time. Even though a wonder drug was not discovered in enough time to save my grandpa, he was no longer suffering. I know that he would never have wanted to live those years the way he did; he was too proud of a man for that. I miss who I called my "Old-Grandpa", the man that he was before the disease took him. The man who taught me how to swim, and how to catch a fly ball. The one who taught me never to back down and never to give up. I miss the grandpa that was the proudest fan at the softball fields, cheering me on. I will always remember how B's were never as good as A's in school to him. I miss the grandpa who, when I looked into his eyes and he beamed back at me, I knew he was proud of me and loved me to no end. That grandpa was lost long before that early Thursday morning. So on that morning, in a way, he was given back to me. He is now able to be with me, in my heart, and watch me from above. I know now without a doubt, that he remembers my name and so much more. I love you, Grandpa.
© Brandy S.