Monday, 11 February 2008

Ignorance is Bliss

I have one grandparent left, one grandmother. This has been the case for a few years now, since my other grandmother died. She was less than a year away from reaching her century and was still independent in her mid-90s where she, despite blindness, continued to live on her own. She was unable to read the labels on cans and used to have to guess what was in them with predictably amusing consequences. Less amusing was when she wasn’t sure that the oven hob was on and tested it with one of hands leaving a spiral shaped burn on her palm. She showed considerable resolve and strength throughout her life, not least when she was sectioned. A daring escape over a wall in my parent’s garden was attempted due to her insistence that we were all out to get her, particularly my dad who, she claimed, kept a tiger in his shed. She then hit a woman who was trying to stop her as she stumbled down the road, threw dirt and stones at a policeman and spat at the paramedics who came to take her away. The rest of her days were spent in a residential care home…

…Which is how my other grandmother lives. She has Alzheimer’s disease and doesn’t really understand what’s going on around her anymore, although she can be quite charming when her synapses crackle and stimulate some previously forgotten memory from her youth. Most of the time, though, her condition is distressing for her and those around her. When her dog died a few years ago she used to ask where Scamp was every day, and every day she would be told that he’d died and would then feel the grief of losing her dog all over again. This is why no one will be telling her that her only sister died this morning. She wouldn’t understand. The last time her sister visited my grandmother didn’t even know who she was. I don’t think she needs to be told.

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