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Making Sense of Alzheimer’s is a creative space for people to understand the past, present and future of Alzheimer’s disease. It is an evolving forum, a gallery of ideas, a museum without walls.

Dear Grandma

By Beth Prescott

DearGrandma

Hi Grandma,

It is me, your eldest granddaughter.

I just wanted to tell you I love you. I always have and I always will. I love you beyond words.

I know things are different at the moment. But I will never stop loving you.

I am so grateful for the time we had together. I never had a babysitter. I did not need one. I had a grandma.

The days we had I will treasure in a special place in my heart forever. The days we spent at your house, building forts out of blankets, playing tiddlywinks on the dining room floor and walking down into town. We always had the same deal. My brother, my cousin and I would be quiet and let you look around the charity shops and in return we would get an ice cream. It worked every time.

Whenever it was my birthday there was only one cake I wanted. My Grandma’s Maltesers cake. I always got it too. Christmas evenings were spent at your house and what a spread you would put on. We never went hungry when you were around.

But things changed so suddenly.

First your memory started going, then your movement.

You were determined to fight it at first. To be mobile for as long as you could. You always were a tough lass, full of Yorkshire grit.

Eventually though, not even the most battle-hardened warrior can stop it.

It crept up on you bit by bit.

It crept up on us all bit by bit.

I can never quite put my finger on the day when we ‘lost’ you. I wish I could and I wish I had known. I would have wrapped my arms around you and told you I love you and I always will. I would have taken the opportunity to say goodbye.

But I did not get to say goodbye.

I never will.

You just left. I do not know when. One minute you were there, the next you were gone.

I know you are still here with us. But you are not yourself.

Even though you are still with us, I mourn the loss of you. I feel like I have lost my Grandma. I guess this letter is what I would like to say to you, even though I know you will never read it.

The first day you did not recognise me will stay with me forever, even though I wish I could forget it. It hurts to know you do not know who I am anymore. After the amazing time we had together, I guess I just do not want to believe it is over.

That is the problem with Alzheimer’s, there is no hope of you ever getting better, no way out, no chance of us ever having another family outing with you.

Just the resignation that it only gets worse.

I know it is hard.

It is hard for both of us.

It is hard for all of us.

But we know it is not your fault. Nor is it ours. It is not anyone’s. It just happened.

Even when you kick and scream and tell us you do not know who we are and even, sometimes, that you hate us. We know it is not you shouting really.

I will help look after you for as long as you need, until that day we both know is coming where you do not need our care anymore. I dread that day but at the same time I know when it comes, you will finally be at peace. You will be with your Saviour and King, where you belong and where there is no pain.

I will never forget that you looked after me when I could not look after myself. There were no doubt times when I was kicking and screaming and you felt like throwing your hands up in the air in despair and giving up.

But you did not.

You showered me with love, with care and with patience.

The least I can do is return that in your hour of need.

There are very occasional minutes when you are with us. Those extremely rare times you smile at me and call me ‘love’ like you always used to. These moments mean the world to me.

I will never forget you. Even though things are different now, I will always remember you as the loving, caring and fun grandma who always had Mintoes in her handbag and enough change for an ice cream.

You will be in my heart forever and if, one day, I am half the grandma you were, I will be happy.

Lots of love and God bless,

Your Bethy x

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