For a long time Pauline did fight. She tried to laugh off symptoms, making light of forgetting names, finding excuses and pretending. She was fierce, but ultimately, she lost. Everybody does.
Still, Sarah is adamant. “She hasn’t forgotten her passion for music. I know it!”
But her brother Hugh reveals a starker side in a school essay, written by a 16-year-old who’s been shocked into adulthood by loss. It’s a powerful piece in which he is alone with an old woman in a room, revealing only in closing that she is his “beautiful grandmother.”
In her white room, he writes: “I experienced absolute silence. It was the first time I had ever really heard it but it was not as beautiful as I had imagined . . . Everything was in its place but robbed of its meaning . . . In this place, the universe had been tilted sideways, and gravity had lost its pull.”
The old woman had grown smaller since he’d last seen her, and she seemed out of context. “She was unkempt, an improper gear in an otherwise flawless mechanism.”
They stare at each other, he longing for connection. “Could she have missed me?” he wonders.
Too soon, he has his answer.
“With her few mumbling words, the silence was shattered; it tore apart my reality and for the first time in my life I experienced heartbreak.
“Who are you?”
Early warning signs of Alzheimer’s
1. Memory loss that affects day-to-day function
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3. Problems with language
4. Disorientation of time and place
5. Poor or decreased judgment.
6. Problems with abstract thinking.
7. Misplacing things
8. Changes in mood and behaviour
9. Changes in personality
10. Loss of initiative
Source: The Alzheimer Society of Canada