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Dear Bubby

Dear Bubby

Alzheimer's is like a thief who takes away the most precious memories of a life shared in love.


Dear Bubby,

Sometimes there is recognition; other times there's this great void. Some days bear light; other days are filled with darkness.

Where are you, Bubby… the woman I called ‘Gammy' as a child? My memories are filled with so much happiness and love growing up with you in my life. I remember the homemade frozen desserts in the fancy parfait glasses (the freezer was the first place I'd check out at your house) and the big, black sunken bathtub where you would let me play for hours (with lots and lots of bubbles.) I remember your gentle diplomacy when determining which child's turn it was to use the snuffer on the dinner candles. I always knew how happy you were to spend time with me.

I remember your joy when your two great grandsons were born and my own joy as you began to teach them all that you taught me.

I remember the love and support you have shown me through the years in all that I have done. You have always been my biggest fan.

I remember, Bubby… I wish you did, too. Alzheimer's disease is like a thief who takes away the most precious treasure of memories… memories of life lived to the fullest… a life shared in love.

Even though you are not the same mentally and physically, your soul is still the same.

As your illness progressed, our time together used to cause me much anxiety and heartache. How can it be that you don't know I'm your granddaughter…or even my name? These questions remain unanswered, but they no longer torment me.

Through my continuing study of Torah, prayers, and Jewish history, I have come to look at life differently over the past few years. This personal evolution of Jewish self-definition based on knowledge and traditions has helped me realize that even though you are not the same mentally and physically, your neshama, your soul, is still the same. I have learned to improve our time together by continuing to find in you all that has always been there -- patience, kindness, and love. Each visit with you adds new dimensions to my life, to my purpose in this world.

It is amazing how much you teach me. I have so much to learn.

I help you with your daily activities… you help me learn new ways of doing things. I help you fill in the spaces when the words don't readily come… you help me find added meaning to the words I already know. I spend time with you sitting, talking, walking… you enjoy my company without demands.

I know that you know I'm someone special to you. I hear it in your voice and see it in your eyes and in your smile. You are very different now, but in many ways, very much the same. You still want me to eat, eat, eat… and to curl up and take a nap with you. In your own special way, you ask me if I am happy and if my life is meaningful.

You are still my teacher. On the days that bear light, I see and learn from your wisdom and wit. On the days of darkness, you inspire me to reach deeper within myself to show you the love, kindness and patience you deserve.

This disease that has come between us has, remarkably, brought us closer still. Our time together remains a treasure. We no longer share the same memories but together we are creating new ones.

November 9, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Dina Blaustein, November 11, 2002 12:00 AM

You Touched My Neshamah, too!

Ms. Weber, I give you a big "yasher koach" for bringing out, this condition that is too often "brushed under the covers". I have often said to those going through these changing events with a loved one, "treat them in a usual way and don't "talk behind their back", as they may "tune in" for one special moment that you don't want to miss. In addition, we would never want to hurt their feelings!
I remember the following story from my childhood. Our special Rabbi Segal, a'h, in Wilmington, North Carolina, consistently visited a congregant, Mr. Finkelstein, a'h, who had a stroke and was known to be "out of it". But Rabbi Segal, a'h, would go visit him, sing with him and speak words of Torah with him. One specific visit, the Rabbi started saying the Shema, and Mr. Finkelstein joined in perfectly for that moment, even though he never spoke again.
We never know to what extent the possibilities are, for reaching and touching a fellow Jew's neshamah (soul). As one who used to be VERY involved in geriatrics, I say whole-heartedly, NEVER give up, even if the person can't let us know they appreciate us!

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