Last Saturday we held a 94th birthday party for my grandma, who now lives in a nursing home on Long Island, near my mother’s home.
I have written emotionally before about how difficult it is for the family to see her like this, as Alzheimer’s ravages the mind of the greatest person I’ve ever known.
But it’s been at least six years since she’s really been herself, and a year and a half since she’s been at this facility, so we’ve all learned to adjust. Take our good moments where we can get them.
We don’t focus on the fact that she falls asleep during conversations with us, or that she doesn’t speak in understandable words anymore, save for a rare “Yes, yes!” when answering a question.
With Alzheimer’s patients, it’s so easy to focus on the negative, and all that they can’t do anymore. I know it’s a fight for my mother, for me, for anyone who sees her regularly to not remember how vibrant, smart and funny Grandma used to be, and just feel tremendous sadness that she’s not that way anymore.
But sometimes, you enjoy the good moments. Like Saturday.
The whole family came to her nursing home to celebrate; about 20 of us were there, including four of Grandma’s great-grandchildren (the other two are away at sleepaway camp). We had a Carvel cake, we hugged and kissed her, and fussed over her like crazy.
Sure, she didn’t remember any of our names.
But she kept smiling and hugging and kissing right back, as she always has done for all nine decades of her life, and I have to believe that somewhere inside, she knew we were all there to celebrate with her.
We didn’t talk about the fact that it likely will be the last big birthday party we have for Grandma; we all just kinda knew. And when we left her, when my mom and aunt wheeled their mother back to Room 110, I couldn’t help but notice that every single one of us looked back at her just a little bit longer than usual.
For a few hours, she was the Grandma we’d always known and loved. And for a few hours, she made us all feel so much better.
As she has done all our lives.
**Sometimes the brilliant satirical website “The Onion” hits so close to home, that you’re cringing while you’re laughing.
The great journalist Tommy Tomlinson Tweeted this Onion story on Monday, and it cracked me up.
Headline: “Economically Healthy ‘Daily Planet’ Now Most Unrealistic Part of Superman Universe.”
It continues: NEW YORK—”Frustrated fans of the Superman comic book said Monday the continued financial stability and cultural relevance of the series’ Daily Planet newspaper is now the most unrealistic part of its universe and an annoying distraction that has ruined their reading experience.”
Read the rest here, and if you’re a current or former newspaper scribe like me, read it and weep.
**Finally, as Roger Federer fans the world over continue to celebrate his Wimbledon championship Sunday, one of the most bizarre betting stories ever was still being talked about.
A man named Nick Newlife (above) placed a wager of 1,520 pounds on Federer in 2003, betting that Federer would win Wimbledon seven times by the year 2019.
It was a hell of a risky bet at that time, as Federer had just won his first Wimbledon that year.
But Sunday it came true, only Newlife wasn’t around to collect the 100,000 pounds he was owed. He died in 2009.
Instead, the international charity Oxfam, a poverty-fighting group whom Newlife had left his worldly possessions and money to, received all the money as a donation.
Even in death, Nick Newlife was a generous soul. And even in victory, Roger Federer turns out to be a hell of a charitable fellow.