I had lived my youth like many children do, spending time watching movies and hearing stories with happily ever after endings. This belief followed my mentality into my preteen and teen years as well. I had undoubtedly believed everything always works out for the best, that was, until, the truth hit me like bus. It took sudden change and unfortunate family circumstances to be enlightened with the knowledge of adulthood: not everything works out for the best. This may sound like I am going to go into some pessimistic ramble about a sad story that has happened in my life, but it is not. It is one that I have come to understand the theme as not only unavoidable, but necessary to one’s life.
This understanding shaped last year. My life had taken some drastic changes, and with it, my view. The story starts when my grandmother moved into my home. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about eight years prior, and her health had begun to take a turn for the worse. It was decided that she would be moving into my parents’ house. In the beginning it wasn’t a big deal.
Aside from the fact that my parents had to two properties to maintain and an aged, grey haired woman with a feeble child-like mind; the change was a fairly easy transition. Split between four capable people, being my sister, mother, my father, and myself the newest addition of responsibility to our home was feasible. Don’t mistakenly presume this was a cakewalk; the adjustment required reorganizing and tightening schedules. Mentally, it was a challenge to accept the new terms as well. The stress added to my families lives and myself was an unexpected burden.
All in all, the beginning of this journey with my grandmother was just a small bump in the theoretical road of life. I particularly remember one account, one of the jolly memories with my family over dinner. It wasn’t anything special. Just our average evening meal consisting of a simple menu, Fox News commentary serving as background noise, gathered around the dining table in the kitchen. My grandmother had begun to lose all cognition of basic speech and thought at this point in time.
Getting dressed and using simple forms of technology were a foreign language to her failing mind. Watching this rapid decline in her well-being was rough on my emotions, as well as my family. Despite the circumstances, my father consistently made light of the situation by having fun with her lack of comprehension. As she was eating the rich meat spaghetti that was the chosen meal of the night, she had spilled some onto her lap. As her typical attempt of cleaning herself up, she began to just push it off of her pants and onto the floor.
My mother immediately began to raise her voice with frustration. Before anything could be said, my father cut in. He addressed her calmly, asking her a simple question: “What are you doing?” In her absent state of mind, she replied with “The dog wears yellow.” My mother’s body tightened and broke down into sobs, leaving the dining room. My sister silently stood up from the table and put her remaining pasta back into the pot on the stove, and went to her room. My father recognized how mood had so radically changed.
He finished his dinner, then proceeded to clean up my grandmother and the spaghetti mess around her place setting. During all this, I just sat slumped over my pasta, toying with the limp noodles, which I no longer had an appetite for. I felt as though all the happy music had stopped short, as if the notes on the sheet music had just fallen off. The happy ending was cut short; my dreamy fantasy was painfully twisted into screwed-up reality. This story is not one that I wish to ask for sympathy or condolences. I just wish to elaborate on the fact that things don’t always work out for the best.
The close of that night really hit that nail on the head for me. The idea that this situation was not going to magically fix itself had sunk into my head. Everyone in the house had developed a mental disorder of various sorts due to high levels of stress. My father had begun to drink heavily and my mother had developed a case of manic depression. My sister was a bit younger and not fully understanding all that was happening. Her innocence saved her from much of the damage being done.
The decision was made that my grandmother had reached a point in her health that we could no longer account for. She was moved into a nursing home, and has remained there. Her health has reached the absolute end of the line by now; she had two strokes recently, leaving her severely physically handicapped. My family is still hurt by some of the experiences we endured. My mother’s depression has not improved.
If anything, her health has begun a slow decline since my grandmother was moved into the nursing home. For me, I get anxiety when I think about going to visit my grandmother. I don’t deal very well with the pain that resurfaces when I see her; that pain I felt watching my grandmother’s gradual, irreversible decline to eventual death is something that is engrained into my mind. Even writing this now, I get a little chocked up. I believe I now have a greater understanding than before of what came from the episode. Understand of the value of life has been renewed.
It is truly something that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Cherish every moment. Besides that, there is something else that I will never forget: life is not a fairytale. The terrible lies of fairytale fluff are so welcoming as a child, and envied in maturity. Not everything always works out for the best.
That simple truth is understood, and not easily forgotten when life gets tough.