My grandmother is not doing well, and as I sit here typing I can hear her answering questions for the insurance company. Right now, the nice lady (loudly and slowly) asks my grandmother if she knows what day it is. Silence. She asks louder. Still, I can’t hear her response. The lady moves on. What town are we in? The quiet hits my core. I imagine my grandmother in the next room, smiling and nodding, desperately trying to understand. This is torture. The lady changes directions, can she show her how to take off her shoes? What about the bathroom, can my grandmother show her where it is? I stop listening.
It’s distracting, sure, but more painful. This is the same grandmother who taught hundreds of children in school how to read and how to tie their shoes, and I can’t begin to remember all she taught me. Now she has a few sentences left but it’s mostly jumbled words. She can turn the lights on, but not off; open the windows and doors, but never close them. I wish I could take comfort in the idea that she is not aware of what is happening, but I know she is. She barely speaks above a whisper right now because she’s aware of her inability to communicate. She apologizes and my heart breaks. After watching her siblings lose their minds, I know she is aware of what’s happening to her. She’s been expecting it—as much as one can.
She still smiles; I guess that’s something, no?
If you were to have asked me a few years ago about my beliefs on life, I would’ve told you that I believe in writing one’s own story and that I wanted to write my life as one big epic adventure.
But with Alzheimer’s, as with most illnesses I would imagine, the story writes you. It grabs you and traps you; it builds a prison and then a bridge out, and then just as quickly knocks it down. And you are left with this vague horror of knowing, but never really knowing, what the next moment will bring.
My grandfather is determined to take care of her for as long as possible. And when I cry, I cry for him too.
It’s been pretty darn cold down here in Kentucky! I took the pictures above while on a walk. We only made it down the block before we had to turn around because we were freezing!! On my way to Kentucky, I stopped by Michigan to visit Matt and his family (okay, MI wasn’t really on my way).
Despite the cold, we walked around as much as we could; watched movies and documentaries we’ve been meaning to see like The Cove, Fight Club, National Geographic Photographers, and The Black Swan; checked out the Heidelberg Project, started by a man who wanted to use “art to provoke thought, promote discussion, inspire action and heal communities”; visited the Detroit Institute of Arts, and spent too little time at King’s Used & Rare Books store. The weather looked iffy the day I wanted to leave for Kentucky, so Matt came with me for the drive. But not without a lot of tears first.
We don’t fight often, but this was one of our bigger disagreements. He had a lot he wanted to work on, but I made the case (pretty clearly, I hope) that if he was serious about us, he needed to come with me to meet my grandparents because there might not be another time. And, if we get married and have children together, I want him to be able to describe what he knew of her. Yes, I really said that.
So he came. We drove south on 75 (a long, straight, boring highway) and into some pretty heavy rain. But we made it. Unfortunately, Matt was very allergic to something in the house and was really sniffly the whole time. My grandparents made sure that we were properly chaperoned the whole time (read: we were never alone) and I wanted to be respectful so I didn’t push it. We tried to go for a walk one day but it was about 10 degrees and windy. After an icestorm came and went, Matt took a bus back to Michigan on Tuesday. I don’t know when I’ll see him again.
Wikileaks & Julian Assange
Whenever I do not write for a few months, I feel like there is a lot to catch up on. I really want to write about what is going on with Wikileaks and Julian Assange because it is SO horrifying and fascinating, but for now I’ll just share a few good reads that are in line with what I believe.
+ Shameful attacks on Julian Assange (The Atlantic)
“Wikileaks is a powerful new way for reporters and human rights advocates to leverage global information technology systems to break the heavy veil of government and corporate secrecy that is slowly suffocating the American press. The likely arrest of Assange in Britain on dubious Swedish sex crimes charges has nothing to do with the importance of the system he has built, and which the US government seems intent on destroying with tactics more appropriate to the Communist Party of China — pressuring Amazon to throw the site off their servers, and, one imagines by launching the powerful DDOS attacks that threatened to stop visitors from reading the pilfered cables… And American reporters, Pulitzer Prizes and all, should be ashamed for joining in the outraged chorus that defends a burgeoning secret world whose existence is a threat to democracy.”
+ I agree with Glenn Greenwald. (Attempts to prosecute Wikileaks endanger press freedoms) (The media’s authoritarianism and Wikileaks)
+ People are calling Assange a serial rapist. WTF. His actions with women are questionable, indeed; however, I agree with Naomi Wolf,
In other words: Never in twenty-three years of reporting on and supporting victims of sexual assault around the world have I ever heard of a case of a man sought by two nations, and held in solitary confinement without bail in advance of being questioned — for any alleged rape, even the most brutal or easily proven….Of course ‘No means No’, even after consent has been given, whether you are male or female; and of course condoms should always be used if agreed upon. As my fifteen-year-old would say: Duh.But for all the tens of thousands of women who have been kidnapped and raped, raped at gunpoint, gang-raped, raped with sharp objects, beaten and raped, raped as children, raped by acquaintances — who are still awaiting the least whisper of justice — the highly unusual reaction of Sweden and Britain to this situation is a slap in the face…
Keep Assange in prison without bail until he is questioned, by all means, if we are suddenly in a real feminist worldwide epiphany about the seriousness of the issue of sex crime: but Interpol, Britain and Sweden must, if they are not to be guilty of hateful manipulation of a serious women’s issue for cynical political purposes, imprison as well — at once — the hundreds of thousands of men in Britain, Sweden and around the world world who are accused in far less ambiguous terms of far graver forms of assault.
Anyone who works in supporting women who have been raped knows from this grossly disproportionate response that Britain and Sweden, surely under pressure from the US, are cynically using the serious issue of rape as a fig leaf to cover the shameful issue of mafioso-like global collusion in silencing dissent. That is not the State embracing feminism. That is the State pimping feminism.