I received news today that my Great Uncle is in Hospice care and probably won't make it through the night. He has had Alzheimer's disease for awhile now and has not been doing well, but still hearing this news is so sad. The power of facebook has brought my extended family together from all over the country to hear the news together. His son has been caring for him for a long time and it has been a long rode dealing with this devastating disease. He and his family are heartbroken that his Father will soon be joining his Mom, Aunt Gloria, who passed away not long ago. I remember many things about my Uncle Don. I can think fondly of many memories I was able to have with him, that I didn't get with my Grandfather. My grandpa, Uncle Don's brother, died 25 years ago. I was only 5. I was always able to see a bit of my Grandpa in my uncle Don's sweet smile. That is something I will never forget. Even when we saw him a few months ago at my Mom's party, he was smiling. Not always aware of his surroundings, but smiling.
Thinking about him and about his family can only lead me to think about my Great Aunt. Everyone who has known me knows my Aunt Jean. She has been at every party, every gathering and a constant part of my life since I was born. My Grandmother, her sister, also died when I was 5. Aunt Jean has been the closest thing to a Grandmother I have had for as long as I can remember. Over the passed few years she has been battling dementia. As it progresses into Alzheimer's disease I will admit it is hard to watch her. She has gone from a fully independent woman to someone who needs notes and reminders to help her through her day. She is still the same person, just slowly losing herself. It is a very sad disease to watch. To be honest I know I am bad about visiting her because it is hard to see this woman who has been "Aunt Jean" forever, become a shell of her former self. My mom talks to her more than once a day and I send food over and call to check on her. On more than one occasion she has called Anna, Sarah. On more than one occasion she has called me, Donna. I have realized the easiest way for us both to be comfortable is to talk about the past. I recently sat with her and looked through an old album and asked her many things about the pictures. She is pretty good with these memories. Thinking of this and Uncle Don is where I got my idea for tonight. I have compiled a list of questions I want to know the answers to. Simple things, like where did my Great Grandparents meet, where did my Grandparents meet, writing down the names of all of my great aunts and uncles. I want to know a few of her memories, her childhood. These are the things that live only in her memory. I would like to write them down, so some day if she can't remember even them. I will tell her about her life. So, hence the title of this blog being Part 1. I am looking forward to writing Part 2 and I hope to find somethings I didn't know before. Saying an extra prayer tonight for Uncle Don and knowing he has the love of his life waiting for him with open arms in Heaven.
*the picture above is from Aunt Jean's birthday party a few years back, it is Aunt Jean, Aunt Gloria and Uncle Don...of course with that smile on his face.