When My Nannie With Alzheimer’s Said, “You’re So Beautiful”

The stifling humidity did nothing for my already sweaty palms and pounding heart. I remind myself to breathe more than once as our car wound around the narrow North Carolina roads bringing us closer to a place I never wanted to go. Memory Care Unit. Alzheimer’s. Beloved Grandma (AKA- Nannie). I try to steady my mind. My racing heart. My burning eyes. But still the tears pool and spill over as we pull up to the charming white building.

She asks, “Where’s that other guy?” She means my brother, but cannot retrieve his name from her torn up brain. (I wonder later if she is asking about my ex-husband?) We head to her room (ignoring unpleasant smells) and sit in more silence than we’re used to with Nannie. She cannot converse as she once did. She scrambles to put together words and sentences that make sense, but cannot tell which is which anymore. We complement her room. Her chair. The way her hair is cut. We say how much we love her brand new carpet.

Suddenly a man enters with a carpet cleaner. He heard there had been a nighttime “accident” that needed to be cleaned up. Nannie does not have a roommate…we sit in silence as he cleans the carpet. Pulling the huge machine back and forth, back and forth over the offending stain. Nannie has no idea why he has come. What has happened to the carpet? She doesn’t seem phased in the least.

As I blink back tears we decide to go outside for some fresh air. As usual, I thread my arm through hers. She is so small. Frail. Hunched over in a way that I don’t remember from six months ago when I last saw her. She grasps my hand tightly and looks directly into my eyes. “You’re so beautiful.” She says. “Your face is just so lovely and you don’t even know it.” We are crying again. “You’re so beautiful too, Nannie.” I manage to choke out the words. Slowly shuffling our feet in unison as I steady her shaky steps and uncertain motions.

I remember all the times she took care of me. Her steady hand literally guiding me through tough times and good times. The way she cupped my face within those familiar hands on my wedding day and held me tightly. “All the best to you both darling!” She exclaimed. When I was a little girl just out of the tub, the way she would comb my wet hair and call me Cinderella. “It’s time for the princess to go to bed!” She declared with hugs and kisses and tucked in feet. The times we talked about our God and how He works in our lives. All of those precious times that she can no longer remember.

Amy Boyd
Amy Boyd is a blogger and communicator who loves to provide hope, heart revival, and assurance that our identity lies in Christ alone, and not in our circumstances. Following her unwanted divorce from her youth pastor husband, Amy had to decide if God was really for her. She blogs at www.revivemeagain.com to give hope to women in the midst of faith-shaking moments. Amy is a chai latte addict who recently began adding a shot of espresso to her latte for an extra kick. When she isn’t writing, Amy enjoys boating and swimming her way through the beautiful Michigan summers and whipping up the latest Rachael Ray recipes while singing along to 80s hits.

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