I love my Grandma and Grandad. I have SO many memories of them and of holidays spent roaming around their 300 acre farm in Gippsland. In my mind, they will always be the fit, acitve, healthy and perpetually busy people from my childhood memories.
They have grown old. (People tend to do this, and it is a good thing really, as the alternative is death.)
Over the last few months my Grandad has been overcome by Alzheimers and Dementia. For some people it is a slowly progressing disease, but for Grandad it seems to have overtaken him rapidly and intensely.
My Grandparents have just celebrated 69 years of marriage. Some family members want Grandad put into care to ease the burden on Grandma. This brings a whole range of problems and concerns for those responsible for making this choice. If they are seperated, or he is in a strange environment, he becomes distressed and unmanageable and Grandma feels like she would be breaking her marriage vows to desert him in a time of sickness. And yet... she is exhausted beyond belief just surviving through each day.
I find it hard to visit them. I want to remember them as the fit, healthy people I knew, and yet I also want to treasure every moment I have left with them.
Today we went to visit them and had the opportunity to introduce Elizabeth to them. Grandad knew us (most of the time) and was glad to have a cuddle with Elizabeth. Bethy is the youngest of approximately 35 great-grandchildren (I don't know exactly how many great-grandchildren there are as I have 21 cousins and I have not kept in touch with which ones have had babies in the last couple of years).
I love my Grandparents and am proud to be a part of their continuing legacy.