“I realized the fragility of where we are in this world and what’s going on and it definitely was a wake up call for me.”
– Rory O’Connell
“Love Note to my Grandfather”
Fiction. Based on a True Disease that has Taken.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.
I left school and there you are Grandpa, always waiting for me. I ask you if you have money to buy ice cream today and you take out money hidden in your wallet. It is just enough to buy my sister and me ice cream. You don’t get some for yourself but I share mine with you. It is our secret. If grandma knew we ate ice cream before dinner she would have a fit but you still let us eat it. We listen to the radio on the way and you sing the lyrics and follow the beat with your hands on the steering wheel. We arrive and you let us run towards the house while taking our bags down and taking them inside. Grandma greets us with kisses and food. You enter and kiss her and sit to wait for our food. We watch TV while eating and it’s a normal day. It’s our routine.
It’s years now and you don’t pick us up anymore because you forgot the route. You didn’t bring any money because you forgot our secret. We listen to the radio but you don’t sing along. You don’t take our bags anymore, you leave them in the car because you forgot we even had bags. You don’t sit with us to eat, you don’t even remember if you ate.
Humans. We are so strong, so resilient, so alive. However, we are also very fragile. Our minds consume us, make us believe we’re less, we’re more, we’re nothing, we’re everything. Our minds fail us in the end. Our mind forgets memories. Alzheimer’s. The worst thing to happen to the mind. It strips a human piece by piece. First, it starts taking the memory, then the personality, and finally the ability to live at all.
Your diagnosis makes you spiral. You look for all these treatments, you look for all these diets but we all know it won’t help, if anything it’ll postpone the inevitable. However, you try it all. You’re afraid and it’s okay. You keep trying to find a cure but it’s not happening. The doctor finally says to stop looking and accept what is.
I arrive at your house today but you greet me and go into your room. Your mind has made a world of itself where human interactions are difficult for you. I know you know that you repeat everything which is why you don’t talk but grandpa, I’d listen to the same sentence forever and I wouldn’t mind it. You were this independent man and now you can’t do anything by yourself. You get angry at grandma. You’re angry at the world and spend the days in your bed.
Grandma steps up for you. She’s there for you. My mom is there. I’m here. You finally accept it. You let people help and you start to smile again. You ask for help. You ask the same thing about five times but it’s okay, we accept it. However, you say you don’t want to be a burden, you recognize you’re going to end up in a bed and you don’t want us to be the ones who take care of you but how can we not? You took care of my mother, of me, of my sister. It’s our turn now.
“Lord, please give my wife the strength to take care of me, thank you for her,” I hear you say. Even when you’re mind is slowly losing itself, you’re still a person of God. You don’t ask for a cure anymore, you ask for strength for my grandmother. That’s the person you will always be in my eyes. One who puts your family first no matter what. You changed but it’s still you in there. I know because sometimes you don’t remember my name but you still hug me. You still feel love for me, for your wife, your daughters. We see the love. We know it’ll always be there even when you might not be.