Friday, August 28, 2009

Alzheimer's stole my Nanny

In March of 2009, after seventeen years of searching for my biological parents, I was reunited with the woman who had to give me up for adoption the day after I was born. It was a happy occasion for bio mom's entire family. There was one exception. Bio mom's mom, Nanny, has Alzheimer's. The only thing that would have made our reunion perfect would have been if Nanny could remember her daughter having me.

After watching my grandma deteriorate from Alzheimer's I didn't think I could see Nanny. It seemed like a cruel twist of fate that I was given the second chance at having a grandma again only to find she, too, would not know me.
I remember the first time I met Nanny. PaPaw, bio mom, and my four kids all went to the nursing home. A nurse brought Nanny into the room and bio mom knelt down next to her. She asked Nanny if she remembered when she was pregnant and had to give the baby away. Nanny just looked at her. Bio mom told her that I had found them. Nanny looked at me and just grinned. She stared at me almost the whole time we were there. We would like to think she understood but with my experience with Grandma, my best guess is that Nanny thinks I'm bio mom when she was younger.

The biggest difference between Grandma and Nanny, other than Nanny doesn't talk much at all, is visitors. Grandma just had me and Mom- occasionally my sisters and my dad would visit but that's it. PaPaw has dinner with Nanny every night. Bio mom sees her every time she comes to town. My cousins, aunt and uncle all go see her on a regular basis. My cousin Melanie painted Nanny's nails last weekend.

It's beautiful to see the love and support Nanny has. Yet it's so sad that she doesn't seem to be able to appreciate it. I've been told that Nanny always had her hair fixed, always did her make up, always dressed nice. I wish I could have known her then. I wish I could have met her before Alzheimer's stole her. I wish she knew who I was.

Maybe one day they'll find a cure and end the heartache families have to endure.


  1. I'm so sorry for the loss of both your grandmas.

    I'm glad Nana has so much love and support, even if it seems like she doesn't know it.

    Somehow, it has to matter.

  2. Thank you. I'm sure there is someway that it matters. I know it helps the family.

  3. I'm very sorry to hear this. I am relate though, my Grandmother died from alzheimers also. She got the disease when I was a little kid, and died about 5 years ago, I never really got to know her. I think when you tell them things that they know what your talking about though. My grandmother had been taking off of the feeding tube, and was supposed to die within a week, and she lasted 3 and a half weeks, through her 50th anniversery with my grandfather and her birthday, so I think they really do understand whats going on, they just cant verbalize it.

  4. It sounds like she really wanted to have those last few memories. I think deep inside somewhere they are able to remember some things. If only we could see in there.