Saturday morning, my grandfather, at the age of 91, succumbed to the effects of Alzheimer's disease. Whether it was lost or simply forgotten, in the end he wasn't able to swallow and so he wasn't able to eat or take in fluids. He was an extremely strong man who had lived with cancer for more than ten years but was unable to continue the fight with Alzheimer's.
I realize how lucky I am to have had my grandfather for 43 years. As an adult, I am humbled by the way he lived his life. He was a kind soul who placed his family first. Anything he had came from his hard work. He was a World War II Army veteran who worked as a bricklayer for many, many years. When he could no longer do that, he followed his brother-in-law to Detroit to work for Dodge. He's a Motor City success story that Michael Moore speaks of, retiring from Dodge with a pension.
If you have lost a loved one to Alzheimer's, I don't need to tell you how painful their decline is to witness. When we visited last summer, I wanted to believe that my grandfather knew who we were. He seemed to know us but didn't have the words. At one point, he looked at Rich and asked me, "Is he your?" He couldn't find the words. A few weeks ago, my grandmother told my mom of how Papaw hadn't spoken in two days and then the whacky nurse came to check his vitals. He looked at the nurse and said, "You're crazy, you know." So while his filter was definitely gone, he hadn't left us just yet.
The girls cried when we received the news. "We're never going to see Papaw again." No, we won't but we need to remember the good times we had together. Most people never get to know their great grandparents but you knew your great Papaw and your great Mamaw is still with us.
Rest in peace, Papaw.