Friday, December 31, 2004

Home Again Home Again

Happy New Year's Eve!

Got home last night, opened the christmas present that arrived after we left for Pittsburgh last week, and caught up on all my magazines. And played with the new present, of course. Heh heh.

Seeing the family was nice... in that way of visiting family. In other words, I didn't get to spend enough time with some people and had to spend way too much time with others. My father didn't really do a flip out until the last night we were there, and it wasn't nearly as nasty as some I've witnessed. We did clear out all our stuff from the dining room in case he decided that we were "too fucking retarded and irresponsible" to have things. He has been known to break or throw away things that were left where he thought they didn't belong when he gets in one of his moods. Love the man, try to ignore the mental illness, I guess.

Speaking of mental illness, we visited Grandma and Sam. Grandma is our adopted grandma who lived across the street from us when I was a little girl. Lacking grandparents of our own, we latched on to her. She and Sam dated for years, waiting out the deaths of their parents, before marrying in 1980something. For the last ten years, Grandma has been doing the downhill slide of Alzheimers. She was still fairly functional and conversational until about five years ago. I remember taking her to a Dervish concert in Pittsburgh in the Spring of 1999, right before I moved out West, and she was extremely lucid.

Not so anymore. The woman we knew and loved is gone. She talks like a small child and becomes easily confused, leading to tears. It's hard to know what she recognizes and what she doesn't. Like a child, she'll whine for a cookie, but halfway through eating it, she'll forget she has it in her hand. But god help you if you try to take it away... Sam refuses to put her in a care facility, but the daily struggle is eating him up, too. He told us that if we ever suspected a loved one had Alzheimer's, to shoot them or yourself, because the alternatives just were too ugly to live with. I wish I lived closer so I could visit more often. I know my mother gets over there as often as she can, but with her schedule, that's not as often as they need. So I'll do what I have been doing and send them a card as often as I remember. I just wish I was better at remembering that sort of thing.

I didn't intend to be depressing. Our visit with them was fun. Sam has some fantastic stories to tell and loves an audience. He's a bit eccentric - collects clocks and watches and comic book memorabilia. My mother got him a Batmobile for christmas and he went nuts over it. He got Jay to take a watch, a weather station, six or seven CD's, and an old set of vinyl records of Beethoven's 5th from the 50s. When I was little, Sam used to be into stamp collecting, Matchbox cars, and Wonder Woman. One year I drew him a picture of Wonder Woman and cut it out to look like a stamp. He can be ornery, a cranky old man, but he's just a big sweetheart underneath that. I'm only recently discovering that. He had me fooled for many years.

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