I knew from my dad that she was a kind and gentle woman. I would look into her eyes, which gazed into the distance, often accompanied by a concerned brow, and could believe the words my dad had told me: that she never once raised her voice. She sat there now, tapping her hand softly on her lap until my grandpa took it in his hands and gave it a loving pat. He spoke softly to her, as if nothing had ever changed between them. I remember praying as a little girl for her disease to be taken away — even for a few minutes. I just wanted to talk to her, to have her make eye contact with me and know that I was her granddaughter. I wanted to tell her that I was taking German lessons; her parents had emigrated from Germany.
I wish I had known my grandma in her prime. I wish I could have practiced speaking German with her, or heard her sing, or listened to her tell her version of the stories I heard over and over again growing up. Everyone has a story and hers did not end when Alzheimer’s took over a keen mind.