Stuck in the Moment

Written By: Hannah Powell

January 11, 2017

I remember my grandma Grace and the person she was six years ago. The lady who was always smiling, with her signature maroon lipstick flawlessly outlining her teeth in the way children, aim to fin-line their coloring books. We always connected well as grand-daughter and grandmother. We would talk about a lot: the drama of elementary school, boys, and even friendships. Grandma Grace was just one of those ladies who you knew was pretty when she was younger and enjoying the prime of youth.
She enjoyed the prime of implicit memories, where memories weren’t forcefully made, but just recalled effortlessly. Six years ago, all of her high school and university memories would have easily flooded to her. Her wedding ring brought the tale of the charming boy introducing himself in the cafeteria. Grandma Grace knew his name was Gerry and she also knew he was a master of the “dad jokes”, which was quite an eggcellent skill. For Grace, an emotion was felt and a moment of a brief memory was stored.
The day Gerry proposed to her was probably the best day of her life. Grandma would cherish the milestones she would make; as a wife and soon as a mother. When her first child came into the world, he was probably close to her heart as well. Daily faces brought by moments of memory.
Now, I say probably because she does not actually know. In fact, Grace can’t even recall her most precious recollections.
Grace was diagnosed with dementia six years ago. Our precious conversations became slurs of words, our ability to communicate and understood was akin to running around in circles. My mom would tell me how to talk emphasize, but not pity. “Now Hannah, don’t finish her sentences.” “Look patiently as she tries to talk.” “Always smile, Hannah.” “Avoid distractions, Hannah.” “Make sure she gets this amount of sleep.” “Hannah, have you ever asked your grandma about her pet therapy?” “Never leave her alone.” Facing my Grandma’s dementia I am reminded of when John Green once said, “The only thing worse than having cancer is watching a loved one suffer from it.”
In a culture where desires can be achieved with the swipe of a finger or the click of a button, our ability to recall precious moments is taken for granted in this instantaneous society. . As you might know of the popular romantic movie, “The Notebook,” the heart throb Ryan Gosling portrays a husband still so in love with his Juliet. The movie occurs in two settings. One is the summer when they fell in love and another is in a nursing home where both are getting older. She too suffered from a memory-erasing disease and the only way Noah (Ryan Gosling) got his wife back was retelling their love story, painting pictures of memories in the form of simple sentences.
My only prayer at night is to remember these prime moments, to take the time to actually recollect what is significant, to appreciate the ability to remember how to love and how to live. Use my grandma’s story as a wake-up call. Yes, make every moment count; death is not the only thing that separates us from life on earth. My grandma lost the ability to share life. Her mind is now filled with cobwebs and governed by forgetfulness. I just pray she’ll earn these back in heaven. The people you meet, the places you see, the things you’ve done; make it count! Take the time to remember. Choose to remember. Choose to live after you’ve stopped remembering.