Many of you know my Granny- Donna Davis. Well, let me rephrase that… Many of you may know Donna from 2013 or before that. I don’t know if very many of you know the Donna who exists in this world today.
More people than I can count have told me “I never would have guessed that she would be the one to go this way! Her mind was so bright!”
Dementia. I hate that word… But this is a word that has consumed myself and my family, chewing us up and spitting us out. It’s an awful feeling- to have that word in our lives. But I don’t want to hide from it, or hide my Granny from the world. Never in my life have I met a more beautiful person who has had so much influence on my life. And I know that I am not the only person to be effected by this disease. So I am here, showing a side of me I would prefer to keep private, and sharing my family’s stories in a series of blogging posts. I’m going to get really personal with you guys, so be prepared. I hope these stories make you laugh, smile, and most of all I hope they touch you in some way.
Chapter 1: “Where My Purse?”
My entire life I had my second mother- my Granny. I spent at least 45% of my with her. I swear, she did 1/3 of the raising process for my sister and myself. She drove me to and from school from Kindergarten to 5th grade, and some during sixth grade as well. I spent weekends with her, she came for dinner every week, we had “sleepovers,” any time I could spend it was with her.
Granny was not the spoily grandma… As a matter of fact, she rarely ever bought me toys or stuffed animals or anything like that. She was very practical- when she did buy us something, it was pencils, school clothes, shoes, the necessities of life (and then some). She was also very strict and upright- I remember multiple times she would make my sister and I redo all of our math papers “because our plus signs looked too much like t’s.” I knew the difference between the phrases Mia and I or Mia and me because whenever I got it wrong I had to stop and correct my sentences. We didn’t ever get away with anything. She kept her whole life planned out on a calendar on her desk. I remember sitting there with her and looking at her lists of to-dos that she had written down. There wasn’t a single thing she didn’t have written down. She was one of the smartest people I knew- she taught sign language for my Elementary school all the years she drove me there. (I have friends that would hide under the desks when they saw her coming. Ha!)
At the same time, she was also extremely creative. She crocheted, drew, painted, gardened, made cards, knitted, played piano, wrote poetry, and taught calligraphy classes. She is the one who started my crafting and journalling passion, and taught Mia how to crochet. She taught me how to write haikus, and was the biggest fan of my writings. Somewhere in her cabinets are folders filled with poems I wrote to her. Another thing about her- she kept EVERYTHING. From my dad’s first grade doodle of a dog to a copy of my Eighth Grade “Diploma,” she has it all somewhere in her house. I learned so much about my own faith with her- she taught me so much about the Bible.
Around sixth grade, we started noticing weird little things Granny was doing. When Mia and I started middle school, Granny stopped grading. Her driving was terrible, especially in the dark. When we asked her about it, she said “Well I know what I’m doing when I know the area well.” She was unable to see road signs, running red lights, and swerved whenever she took her eyes just barely off the road (thank God she drove like a typical old granny- very, very, very slow). My mom had to ask her to stop driving us to piano lessons, which I think broke her heart a little bit. She did weird things, like making scrambled eggs but forgetting to scramble them, forgetting names, not remembering directions to places she had been to, etc. We got a lot of phone calls saying she got lost in the hardware store, she couldn’t remember how to glue things together and went to the sewing store to get help, tried opening her house with the unlock button for her car, etc. At one point, a trusted friend of hers pulled me- the 15 year old me- that she had gotten really bad and needed help. That was the first time I heard that word- Dementia. He told me that once someone starts going downhill things speed up and get much, much worse. I couldn’t imagine this happening, not to my Granny. About two weeks after that, things became so much worse than I imagined it would be.
The summer of 2014 Mia and I had been working out at Granny’s house for a little extra money (she couldn’t garden any more due to her back), and for a few weeks she was complaining about a toothache. We dismissed this after a few dentist trips, but she kept saying how bad it really was. This was also during a time that was super, super hot outside, and didn’t find it necessary to pay for AC, so she was most likely dehydrated. She had a couple of really bad days, but the third day of the heat and the toothache, things took a turn. Mom dropped Mia and I off at her house, and when we knocked on the door and she didn’t answer, we just walked in. We found her sitting in her chair staring straight ahead of her. She noticed us and said a quick hi then just sat there. After asking her a few questions, we found out she had no breakfast (another trait that she gained throughout the years was forgetting to eat) and was in a lot of pain. We knew that now things were bad, so we called our mom and decided it was time to take her in to the doctor.
As we were walking out the door (she had barely spoken a word to us), my mom grabbed her purse right in front of her so she obviously saw her grab it, looked at us and said: “Where my purse?”
It was with those words my heart sank. My Granny forgot just a simple word in that sentence, which would never ever happen. But that wasn’t what scared me the most. Granny looked at me, and there was new dullness in her eyes. The drive and spark and kindness I saw in her was gone, and all I saw left was a dull, glazed over look. My heart completely broke in two when she looked at me.
So to speed up the story, Granny ended up spending a few days in the hospital. Her tooth was indeed messed up. I thought after this that things would go back to semi-normal, and she would be just fine.
I wish so bad that I was right. But everything changed in our lives that day. I no longer was the follower, I was the leader. I became the extra driver in the family when I turned 16. There are so many things I didn’t think I would ever have to do. As a family, we’ve had to make so many sacrifices. But as a family, we have all grown so close through this. I know without a doubt in my head that God wants us to go through this for a reason.
Today is a whole new story, which I slowly but surely want to share with all of you. I’m sorry this chapter was long and dramatic and very sad, but as I know I needed to set the scene for all of you. Thank you to all of you who took the time to read this. I hope you continue to be here through the documented version of this journey.