Quinn’s grandpa, my loving husband, Bruce
My grandfather was an enterprising, intelligent, successful, and moral man. But Alzheimer’s disease stole all of that when he was only in his mid-sixties.
Once, he took his grandchildren down to the San Francisco financial district and gave us lessons about business and banks (all age appropriate) and people, and manners, and proper deportment. He took us on trips to the ocean, even though he was allergic to the sun, to the zoo, and Golden Gate park, and rowed us on Stowe Lake, and treated us to tea and cookies at the Japanese Tea Garden.
Oh how I loved Granddaddy. He also played duets on the piano with my uncle Harold and sang funny songs from another era. He was a good provider, president of his import/export company, a loving husband, and a good gardener.
But Alzheimer’s gradually robbed him of an articulate tongue, of recent memories, and how to do simple things.
I remember visiting my grandparents when I was about fourteen. One night, my grandmother had put Granddaddy in the other bedroom in a twin bed. He was too restless to sleep in the same bed with Grandmommy. I was sleeping in the other twin bed. Granddaddy kept waking up yelling, “Help, help!”
i got up and tried to soothe him. “What wrong, Granddaddy?” He looked scared, and my grandfather had never been scared of anything.
He finally came to full consciousness and said, “It’s nothing. Don’t listen to me. Go back to sleep.”
Eventually my grandmother had to put him in a nursing home. We went to visit him but he didn’t remember us. Didn’t remember that he ever loved us or that he had done so many grandfatherly things with us. All of that was gone.
The last time I visited him, he was very close to death, was in a hospital, and didn’t have a mind. His emaciated body and sunken eyes shocked me. I think he only weighed about 80 pounds. My granddaddy had once been a robust 170 pounds on an average five foot nine frame.
Mercifully, pneumonia took him. I had just turned sixteen. My aunt June, the wonderful singer, tearfully sang for his funeral.
A recent memory of a drive with my honey on the Cascade Loop and Diablo Lake
I thought, how terrible to lose your memories. When that happens, you don’t remember that you loved someone, and you don’t know that that woman or man standing over your bed loves you.
Being loved and loving others is the most important thing in the world. But if you don’t have any memories of that person or all that you’ve meant to each other, then you don’t love.
Nearly fifty years later, I’m thinking about my love for Jesus. How grateful I am to have memories of all that He’s done for me, His lovingkindness, faithfulness, His provision, His protection. If I lost those memories of all the times He’s revealed Himself to me, would I still love Him?
Psalm 103 says:
“Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things He does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things;
my youth is renewed like the eagles.
How grateful I am that I can still remember all these things. I’ve learned not to take memory for granted because I’ve seen how quickly it can be stolen by disease. Yet even though we forget, God will never forget us, or that we are held in His mighty hand. What a comfort!