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Alzheimer’s didn’t stop Grandma Booker

Nikki Dean

Editor’s Note – Nikki Dean writes about her experiences as the great granddaughter of a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s. Monday is World’s Alzheimer’s Day. The area’s virtual Walk To End Alzheimer’s is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26. Dean is the nutrition program coordinator at Piedmont Senior Resources.

When you hear Alzheimer’s, many people don’t quite grasp the concept of just how paralyzing this disease can be to a person and their family. However, it also doesn’t have to mean the end of their way of life. My great grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2002, when I was only 15 years old.

As a kid, I didn’t understand what my Grandma Booker was going through. I didn’t see her second guessing herself, the frustration from not remembering simple things, the constant repetition she had to endure. All I saw were my frustrations. But that didn’t stop her. It didn’t stop her from going places, doing things and spending time with her family. I was fortunate enough to have her there for my high school and college graduations, my wedding, the purchase of my first home, and best of all, the birth of my daughter. The time my daughter and her shared together will forever be some of the most precious memories I will ever have.

I remember when my daughter was learning to walk, she would grab my Grandma Booker’s walker and run away with it because it mimicked her walking toy. My Grandma Booker would just smile and yell out to my grandmother, “Nancy, that baby stole my walker again.” Or when she would sneak my daughter chocolate popsicles and blame it on my daughter eating it all just so she could get another one. I can still see Grandma Booker sitting in the chair, routinely bringing the popsicle down just far enough for my daughter to snag a bite as she dangled from the arm of the chair. To this day, I think of her every time my daughter eats a chocolate popsicle and comes running up to me with a chocolate mustache. I tell her, “you are your Grandma Booker’s baby.”

My Grandma Booker passed away in March of 2016 at the age of 97. She lived a beautiful life and she didn’t let Alzheimer’s stop her from continuing to live it. She didn’t give up on herself, her faith or those she loved, and it was just as important that we didn’t give up on her when she needed us most. She may have not always remembered our names when we came over, or what we had spoken about the day before, but she sure did know the love she felt towards us and it was never masked. In truth, that’s all that ever mattered.

NIKKI DEAN is the nutrition program coordinator for Piedmont Senior Resources. She can be reached at (434) 767-5588 or ndean@psraaa.org.