There’s so much that could be said for Emma Jones. All my life I’ve heard about how sweet, caring and most of all, how selfless she was. I could stand up here today and recount my many childhood memories with her, but instead I would like to talk about the relationship I’ve had with her these past three years.
After I graduated college I came back home and was a little lost. For the first time I didn’t know what the future held, was uncertain about my career path and was flat out unsure about what my next move would be. When my mom asked me to go visit grandma at Arden Courts for the first time I was a little terrified. Most of you who went to visit her know that your first time in a home like Arden can be a little overwhelming. My heart hurt so much seeing what Alzheimer’s can do to a person, let alone a room of 13 people. But I’m here to tell you that life doesn’t end with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
All of the stories I had heard about grandma’s grace and kindness showed through every time I sat down for lunch with her. She was known for singing along, loudly I might add, to her favorite church hymns on Sundays and really any time someone would come in and play a familiar tune. Her caregivers would continuously comment on how polite she was, thanking everyone she encountered even when much else she said didn’t make sense. She had this calming effect to her. Sitting down and holding her hand could melt away the most stressful days. She used to squeeze my hands in a morris-code like way when trying to communicate something and I would always squeeze back letting her know her message was received.
Even though Ms Emma had a hard time communicating towards the end- she was always able to show how much she really did love and appreciate her family. She may have been in the deepest of slumbers, but any time I mentioned that Mary-Margaret, Kim, Lynn, Janine or any of her other grandchildren were visiting, her entire body would absolutely light up. That big beautiful smile, those piecing blue eyes- she always knew when family was around.
Grandma was lucky to have an extended family with all her friends at Arden Courts. The men and women there amaze me every day with their kindness and warmth. Just on Monday I was sitting with grandma alone, at a loss of words, when Ms Pat came in and sat down with me for two hours making sure Emma was comfortable, holding my hand, and asking to see pictures of Emma’s younger days. Whether it be holding hands while watching TV, pushing each other around in wheel chairs or just making sure their friends were getting enough to eat, it’s hard not to love these residents with such pure and loving hearts. Alzheimer’s was able to take away so much from Emma and her friends, but their true innate goodness and sense of self was always able to shine through.
Nobody deserves to go through the devastation of Alzheimer’s, but especially not Emma. She was instrumental in raising and taking care of not only her children, but also all 11 of her grandchildren, and as shown by all the love and support today, I think she did a magnificent job.
Grandma I want to thank you for everything you did for me, and so much more. I’m so sorry if I didn’t take the time to tell you how much I loved and appreciated you when I was younger. Helping take care of you has been such a blessing in so many ways. You’ve made me a much better person and taught me things I will cherish forever. Helping take care of Ms Emma has been my favorite thing about myself these past three years and grandma I can’t thank you enough for giving me such a wonderful gift. My goodness we’re going to miss you.