He's my only living (blood) grandparent. He's one of my heroes. And he has Alzheimer's.
Grampie has been in a nursing home for over a year now. Last fall he fell and broke his hip. The accident accelerated his dementia and also made it impossible for him to do things for himself.
While this post could very easily just be about Alzheimer's (I could write a book about it--truly), instead I want to talk about Grampie as I want to remember him. The man he was, not the man disease has made him.
(Grampie is in the dark jersey)
For six years of my life, we lived just a mile away from him. He took us on bike rides, popped delicious bowls of popcorn, and paid us in change for salting slugs. My siblings and I spent sick days on his couch watching TV and hours diving for spoons in his hot tub.
Grampie was a storyteller (and man, did he have some good ones), a jokester, and a chairman (I can't tell you how many "presentations" we sat through).
He lived for visits to Staples to photocopy pictures and articles to send to everyone. He loved to take us out to dinner (as long as we cleaned our plates).
Grampie sang in the church choir and almost always fell asleep during the sermon. He grew amazing roses. He loved computers.
(Grampie with me, my dad, and cousin Michelle)
Things are different now and sometimes it's hard to remember who he was. But he still laughs easily. And though Grampie often mistakes ordinary events (like dinner) for more grand occasions (like a banquet), his eyes still light up when he sees me.
And I still look up to him.
Happy birthday Gramps.