On a regular Sunday visit, I entered her room and was greeted with a smile. "Rebecca!" she said. "Come over and have some tea."
I smiled a warm smile and sat on her bed with her. Grandma Wenciker was 79 years old but stuck in her teens with her neighbor Rebecca coming over to watch the Army boys walk by. And - oh! - those Army boys must have been cute. (Side Note: She eventually married one.)
By this point in her Alzheimer's, Marvin (my grandpa) had passed and no one was left to ground her ... to bring her back as close to reality as could be accomplished. Nearly every time I came, she didn't know who I was and often laughed at the thought of her being a grandmother when she was most certainly not old enough. Due to agitation on my part - and confusion on hers - I gave up explaining who I was and, instead, reveled in the good days.
That particular day was a good one.
I have SO MANY stories from the good days.
Other days were bad. She didn't know who I was, what I wanted or why I was there. The nurse's were stealing her milk and I was a nurse. Her neighbors were stealing her linens and I was a neighbor. Awful, heartbreaking and sad for me but confusing and upsetting to her. Although those trips were kept short, I don't cherish them any less. It certainly helped me come to terms with the fact that Alzheimer's is a jerk - but thankfully, more to the family instead of the victim.
My last visit was different. She knew me and said Marvin was ready for her and that she could see him. I will never forget the way she looked at me when she said that: I saw relief. I told her to go and made peace with what was inevitably coming. She didn't make it to 80.
Today would've been her 89th birthday. I miss her sassy southern-accented comments and her never-ending supply of matching tracksuits with embroidered flowers and birds. I miss painting her nails, bringing her gifts and hearing the stories. I miss being Rebecca and sipping iced tea. Happy Birthday, Grandma Wenciker. I love you.