I remember when my grandmother first started to forget. I was one of the first to go because my brother and I lived far away and could rarely visit. She was loving and happy though, and would smile and make a joke when we were reintroduced.
The lessons left behind.
She had a bright light in her eyes right through to the end. Even when she was blissfully unaware of nearly everything around her, she still saw the beauty in the simplest of things. My family learned a lot in her passing.
The hardest thing for my mom and her siblings was speaking to her. At first, everyone wanted to try to help her remember, and to help her hang on. But the truth is that it’s not that simple. The fact was that usually, she didn’t remember and wasn’t going to. But that didn’t mean that she was lost.
After all, there’s a certain beauty in hearing a story for the first time, especially your own. Imagine if you could hear your life’s stories for the first time, that would make them no less spectacular. You might even say that would make them better.
It’s ok to tell someone their memories.
Eventually the sentence “do you remember your husband Tom” turned into “you married a man named Tom.” That way instead of asking “do you remember that?” several times before losing the train of thought, we could just tell her the story of Pat and Tom.
“Yes, you married a beautiful man named Tom, and when the war ended you raised an incredible family together.” And she would smile and ask a question. “Yes mom, you loved Tom very much.”
In many ways, learning to accept my grandmother’s condition and not fear it allowed us all to experience her journey in a really beautiful way. Like most people with Alzheimer’s, she knew there was something missing, and maybe that bothered her. But if it did, she didn’t show it, and we learned not to be bothered by it either.
In the end, all you need is love and care
It was a really beautiful and peaceful way for her to end her time on this planet. It also gave my mom peace. As she retold the stories, the good and the bad, she realised that in the end that’s all they were, stories. It matters far more how we end the book than what happened in the pages we’ve left behind.
My grandma was a sparkling, mischievous, loving woman right up to the end. She taught us all a lot about what matters most in life. And she taught us a lot about what could be left behind.
Don’t worry if someone you love can’t remember their stories. That’s what you’re there for. You are the storyteller and they have the privilege of getting to hear all their stories anew. Just a few more times before they pass on.
If someone you love is coming to a point in their life where they need more care than you can provide, there is a great Alzheimer’s care community in Ventura, CA. Ventura Townehouse is a loving space where elders can not just pass their final years of life, but thrive and rediscover their passion and personhood. Call us today at
My grandmother lives at the Ventura Townehouse and I feel confident that she is in good hands. They get her to her appointments and provide any aftercare that she may need. Everyone there is friendly and like family. I feel like I’m at home when I go there to visit her and eat with her in the dining room.
Recently, I visited my Mom from Chicago. Each day I offered to take us out and about in Ventura. We found ourselves having such an enjoyable time at the Townehouse we didn’t leave. The dining room was so lovey to enjoy with her friends. Patios welcoming and the activities kept us busy. We laughed and had fun all day! Thank you everyone for making me feel at home and making my visit special. It’s always hard to leave my mom. But not as hard when I know she is so happy! Until my next visit!
Staff is very helpful and always concerned about my Mother’s needs, the interior and grounds maintenance is exceptional. Dining provides healthy menus to choose from. Front desk staff is always friendly and helpful. Best decision we ever made was bringing my mom here.