15 November 2011

~The Nana Chronicles~A certain Someone Turns 89!

This past Friday on
my Nana turned 89!
Pretty darn special, I think!
And how wonderfully blessed am I 
that I still have her here with me.

A few years ago after Nana turned 80,
she would often remark that
it was her 80th year that she really 
felt her body had slowed down.
That she *felt*her age.
"Oh, kid",
she would say to me,
"I just don't have the same zip anymore!"

And then 3 years later,
our family began to notice the subtle changes.
First diagnosed as depression.
And then after countless specialists,
it was confirmed as Alzheimer's.

Like so many other thousands of families
dealing with this,
we asked,
"Why her?"
But, as a family, you have to quickly move past that.
Because time to wallow isn't on your side.

My grandmother's name is Mona, pronounced like "sauna"!

Nana has settled into her new home.
A place filled with people walking the same road.
Only they don't know it.
A family of sorts
 all connected by the same awful disease.

Nana loves her caretakers.
And they adore her.
She is easy-going. Quick to giggle. Compliant.
Unlike many Alzheimer's patients 
who can be combative and filled with anger.
{and who wouldn't be angry!}

Although she does have episodes with
She will stand by the elevator,
purse in hand, saying it's time for her to leave.
She gets a little snippy with the staff!
Usually the best way they calm her down,
is to ask for her help.
We have a large laundry basket filled
with baby clothes that she enjoys folding.
It is soothing to her.
And she usually forgets about leaving... 
{Some doctors believe "Sundowners" is an accumulation of all of the 
sensory stimulation from the day 
which begins to overwhelm and cause stress in late afternoon and evening}

Her caretakers let her help out with many small tasks.
Setting the table.
Folding laundry.
Helping the other residents at meal-time.
Little things that boost one's self-esteem of being needed.

When the staff comes to check on her
she loves to feel the touch of their hands
and a simple kiss on the cheek.
The warmth of the human beings 
who care for her and many others
in the most difficult of situations is 
above and beyond good service to other's.
There are Angels who walk amongst us,
and these caretakers are them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
This past Friday,
my family filled a table at the
Carmichael Inn
restaurant, just minutes from
where Nana lives.

The staff was great!
With greetings of 
"Happy Birthday" to her,
she was all smiles.

My family is fortunate that
Nana is able to make small outings like this.
And on Friday, she was very much 
*in the moment*!

After our lunch,
we all went back to the hotel
where my family was staying.
 We hung out in the lobby and
Nana opened her birthday gifts.
It was nice.
It was almost like it used to be.

If I had closed my eyes,
while listening to the chit-chat of everyone,
I would have swore that we were sitting in my parent's
family-room at their home in Ohio.
My mom helping Nana open her gifts!

Not the lobby of a hotel in east Tennessee,
minutes from where my grandmother lives,
in assisted living because she has Alzheimer's.
This is one of those moments where you ask yourself,

"Why her?".
"Why us?"

But lingering on that fact takes too much energy.
Energy that should be spent on the
~In the moment~
Just like how Nana is living her life.

Saturday found me home
recooperating from Friday.
Chronic fatigue has me hit me hard.
It's like having the Flu 24/7.
 I am trying not to spend too much energy
in the sadness of this.
And learn to live in the moment.
Like my grandmother.

my mom and I spent the afternoon 
with Nana at her place.
We watched a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Nana and I cuddled on the love-seat,
holding hands, eating jelly beans,
and slurping McD's frappes!
The movie had an easy-to-follow plot,
that made it enjoyable for her!

As always, Nana will ask where we all live.
This question is one she will ask over and over at each visit.
"I live here in Tennessee", I tell her.
"Mom and Daddy live in Ohio, but when
their home sells they will move here!"

At the end of our afternoon,
it was time for Nana to join "her other family"
for the evening meal in the small dining room.
My mom had packed up a few throw rugs
from Nana's bathroom
for me to bring home and wash.
Nana was confused by this.
I let her know I would bring them back on my next visit.
"Do you live in Tennessee too?", she asked.
"I do!" I told her.
And right here, also.
I pointed to her heart.
"I live in there, too".
And she gave me that sweet giggle.
A really good *in the moment* afternoon we had.

Thank you for sharing in my grandmother's birthday.
Thank you for always asking about her.
My family and I appreciate all of you
so very much!

I hope you each have a wonderful
in-the-moment day!

Other posts about my sweet Nana!
The Nana Chronicles~Alzheimer's has Touched My Family


ain't for city gals said...

Happy Birthday Nana!! and many more....Ah yes..living in the moment...I truly believe that is what enabled me to take care of my dad until the very end...no regrets...only love. take care, Misha..xoxoxo

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

Three generations of gloriously beautiful women.

Love your Nana's bobby socks in 1939! Look how pretty they both were! Thanks for sharing this with us. She's a keeper!

Donna said...

Nana is adorable! I know she had a wonderful birthday. Love all the pics. Nana looks so young to be 89.
Hope you are feeling better :)

Roean said...

Does she still converse and tell stories of her life? Because if she does, get a tape recorder in there and get those stories saved. My dad would talk about the stories from his life and I could never time it well enough to get a tape recorder going. So I can't remember and I hadn't been able to ask him any questions for about the last ten years. These wonderful people have so much to tell.

And if only I could have been as beautiful at my HS graduation as she was.

Jeni said...

Happy Birthday to your Nana, Misha!

Nana is, has always been, a beautiful woman, who's beautiful soul shines through in all the photos.

Maura @ Lilac Lane Cottage said...

This was beautiful Misha. Happy Birthday to your Nana! Yes you certainly are lucky to have her with you and to be able to enjoy her "in the moment" days. Those are the ones you'll treasure for the rest of your life. This is such a terrible disease. Your Nana sounds as though she's handling it very well other than the 'sundowner' part. I hope you're feeling better today.
Maura X

TexWisGirl said...

a beautiful child. a most beautiful woman - at any age. God bless your Nana. and you.

Deb said...

Nana is a beautiful woman as are all the women in your family. Living in the moment is the right attitude especially when dealing with this disease. Thanks for sharing Nana's birthday with us. It was like I was part of the family for a few minutes and what a great family to be part of. Take care of yourself!

Samantha said...

Your nana is gorgeous in all life's stages! Happy birthday, Nana! :)

Freda said...

Happy Birthday to your Nana Mischa. Glad everyone had a good day and hope you feel better soon.

Clint said...

Thanks for making me cry. I think I needed that.

She's a beautiful lady.

Joyce Ann said...

Happy Birthday to your Nana, how very lucky you are to still have her and how lucky she is to have you!

Joyce Ann said...

Happy Birthday to your Nana, how very lucky you are to still have her and how lucky she is to have you!

Ashling said...

That's so touching; what a profoundly loving family you have. Your Nana is in a good home and surrounded by love; what a blessing. It's a sad, hard journey, but it seems like you have plenty of love to light the way.

(GBS) NewsFromTheHill said...

Happy Belated Birthday to your beautiful Nana!

I see you in her graduation photo!

Hope your parents home sells quickly so they can move to TN.


(GBS) NewsFromTheHill said...

Happy Belated Birthday to your beautiful Nana!

I see you in her graduation photo!

Hope your parents home sells quickly so they can move to TN.


Debi@7Gates said...

You all really take such good care of her. She looked so happy with her family on her birthday. The old pictures and book were adorable.

Flat Creek Farm said...

Happy Birthday, sweet and beautiful Nana!! She was, and still is a gorgeous woman. What a wonderful, love-filled post.. I can feel the love allll the way up here in MO ;) Give Nana a hug from me on your next visit, please.. and tell her she has fans all over who care bunches about her!! hugs, Tammy

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Nana, Misha... That was a fabulous birthday for her... Love seeing all of the pictures --old ones and new ones... She is (and has been) a gorgeous woman.

Happy Birthday to Nana.

Donna said...

I am so happy to hear of your visit and celebration! Your Nana is a lucky gal to be showered with such love!

Cindy said...

What a wonderful post, (brought a tear to my eye!) You have a beautiful family full of love! How very blessed!

Julie Harward said...

What a beautiful post Misha..I kept thinking how much God and Jesus love her. What a great way to keep her involved with the helping out there. I loved this little book and she is such a beauty! :D

Country Dreaming said...

What a great day for Nana, your family and you!
I'm so glad that her "other family" is sooo good to her!!

Happy Birthday Nana!!!


Thistle Cove Farm said...

Happy Birthday Nana; may you have happiness all your days!
What a sweet post, Misha; did my heart good just reading it.

Leslie @ Farm Fresh Fun said...

Stopped in after way too long away and loved this post! Am teary... Your Nana is gorgeous(I can see where you get your beauty from)! How wonderful that she has such loving support all around her. I lost my sweet Great uncle to Alzheimer's and am still so sad. Hope you are feeling better and looking forward to a wonderful day of Thanksgiving!

Mary said...

She is so pretty in her High School picture and now! She has such a wonderful smile. My Mother in law (ex) is also suffering, unfortunately she is more combative most of the time. It's heartbreaking, we shared so many "private times". She has no idea who I am.