Grandchildren and Alzheimers Disease – Yes

The old man sat on the edge of the bed. His glazed eyes focusing on something unseen by the rest of the room. How long had it been since those eyes lit up? How long since a smile broke his face? What a tragedy! So unjust! Painful to watch really. This old man didn’t even resemble the man he once was. He was trapped in a prison. The prison of Alzheimer’s disease.

But then. . . the old man’s eyes light up and there is a brief connection with the man he once was. Three small boys, his grandsons, have just entered the room. A slow smile twitches on his lips and then it broadens. The boys ranging in age from three to seven boldly walk up to their old grandfather. They have been around this man all their lives. They love him dearly and that love fills the room. The old man tries to talk, to respond to their eager voices. The boys prattle on about their lives. They sit close to him and touch his arms and face as they talk. They even arm wrestle their grandfather, bringing grunts and groans from both parties. When the time comes to go, both grandparent and grandchildren are edified by the experience.

It was my father who had Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed at such a young age that he was placed in a nursing home when my children were still very small. We visited him on a regular basis. He always responded better when the children were there. He got to a stage where he was unable to talk to us at all, but he would always try when the children were there.

I worried that the only memories that my children would have of my father were of the old man suffering so in the nursing home. But every visit gave me a chance to talk to them of the man he once had been. To reminisce of what a great father he was and how he would have enjoyed spending time with his grandsons. They developed a great love and respect for the man he had been as well as the man he now was.

My father has long since passed away. My children are now grown and busy with their own lives. But they have a connection with a grandfather who would have otherwise been lost to them. A connection that will follow them always. I am grateful that my sons saw my father even though he suffered with Alzheimer’s disease.