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My great grandmother was the epitome of what a great grandmother should be. She was a sweet southern bell who treated everyone like family, and her sass and quick wit always had her great grandkids cracking up. Gram was the strongest woman I knew, especially being a breast cancer survivor. Most of my memories with Gram involved food; she made the yummiest chicken and biscuits, and I would give anything to have her Italian pizzelles one more time. Her recipes were handwritten and very vague; her pizzelle recipe only says “eggs and flour”. While she passed these recipes down to us, we have yet to recreate meals anywhere near to as delicious as hers were.
In Gram’s early 90s, she was diagnosed with dementia. At the time, I barely understood what this cruel disease meant. What I knew was that my Gram enjoyed cooking, coloring, and watching Deal Or No Deal. However, as visits continued over the years, I began to notice little things that pointed right back to her diagnosis. As she rewrote recipes for my cousins and I, she began missing letters or writing them backwards. Gram could no longer color in the lines in her coloring books, and she would rewatch the same episode of Deal Or No Deal over and over again because she would forget that she had already seen it. It got to the point that my grandma, my aunt, and my mom had to take turns watching Gram, and eventually her disease progressed to where it was time that she moved into a nursing home.
The nurses there were great; everyone loved Gram, and my family is still in contact with the connections we made at Calvert Manor. Visits with Gram that were once so exciting for me began to fill my heart with sadness as I watched her independence that she was so proud of dwindle away; she was trapped in a body that her mind no longer had any control over. Eventually, she forgot my name and that I was named after her, and she passed away at 98. Her passing eased my mind in knowing that Gram was no longer scared or suffering, but this is a wound that time has not been able to heal. I miss her every day, and the smallest things remind me of her. Being in Sigma Kappa with so many sweet skisters who also feel so passionate about memory-loss diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s really does mean a lot to me, and I know that Gram would be proud of me for going SK and continuing to honor her legacy.
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