It’s me Michael. I didn’t have the words when you passed, maybe I have them now.
Dementia is cruel. Some days you were lucid, other days you were saying things that didn’t make sense to me. But you would always have that wide smile when you saw me, and that warm laugh when you found something funny. You weren’t all gone.
But that was only a few years of your life. I want to remember the Grandmother that has been just around the corner my whole life.
The grandmother who knitted us jerseys. You made me woollen jerseys with characters I could get behind, like Mickey Mouse, Frosty the Snowman, and a retro robot. I mean what kid doesn’t like robots?
The grandmother who painted. As well as landscapes you perfectly captured Winnie the Pooh and his band of furry friends for me and Thomas the Tank Engine for my brother.
The grandmother who would wake my sister and I in the morning, after staying the night on one of our sleepovers, for hot porridge and toast with homemade jam.
The grandmother who let me pick a recipe from my Edmonds Junior cookbook to bake, even if it was Raspberry jam coconut slice and my sister hated coconut.
The grandmother who took me for piano lessons regardless of what I thought of my own abilities. We would have afternoon tea and you would ask us what we’ve been up to. We would have our colour assigned plastic cups and you would take the smallest slice even if to us they appeared identical. You would always want to see our school reports. I remember gluing the maths pages of my school report together because of my embarrassment. Mathematics has always been an enemy of mine.
The grandmother I played Rummiking and Hand & Foot Canasta with. Unlike Grandpa you would always give us a fair shot, making sure to only go out at the last possible opportunity to give us all a chance.
The grandmother that came to every birthday and Christmas year after year. You would give our mum cash to pay us back after we bought ourselves birthday or Christmas presents of our choosing, which we would give back to you to wrap up.
The grandmother I gave computer lessons. You were running your new computer with Windows ME and you wanted to download and print the Norfolk Island photos off your digital camera, and write letters in Microsoft Word and attach them to emails.
I would plug the extension cord into the phone jack in your bedroom and snake the cord through the hall and into the spare bedroom where you kept your computer and connected via dial-up. You would sit in front of the computer in charge of the mouse and keyboard, with me sitting next to you as per your request to make sure you took it all in.
That was unless something was broken, then you left me to fix it, and we would have crackers and cheese after. You kept a notebook in the drawer next to the computer and wrote down instructions step by step so you would be self reliant.
I helped copy over Christmas clipart from a floppy disk you were given at your proper computer classes. It was routine to switch the computer off at the wall. Afterwards you would go to your room and pull out a ten or twenty dollar note for my services despite my protest. But the money really was a life-saver when I was unemployed or working part-time.
It was hard seeing your decline, but I can’t even imagine how hurt and confused you must have felt to be let alone in the care centre of that retirement home. It all seemed to happen so fast. One day you were walking down your hallway telling me what your computer had done now, the next you were confined to a wheelchair and unable to correctly verbalise your thoughts.
You were sleeping at the time the day before you passed, and you may not have heard me. I love you Grandma. And I always will.