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Brinna Leary

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My grandfather was always working in his shop. He loved being in there. With us, by himself, with the dog. We built so many wooden birds, and cut out hearts. He would let me use hammers and saws. He wanted us to not be afraid, to explore, and to try something that maybe was scary. I loved just being around him. Waking up early morning, getting in his truck and driving down the long driveway to pick up the paper. Instead of turning around, he would reverse the whole driveway back up and it was so fun. We played boggle together, read the comics together, and he would teach me new card games. He would show me off, he was so proud of me, his only granddaughter.

We used to have campfires, and he would sing and play guitar. There’s something so comforting about listening to your grandfather sing bluegrass. He was a gentle man with us too. He cared for every animal and bug. He was a softie. He called us all sweethearts and other pet names. Alzheimer’s made life hard, it made it sad and scary for a while. There was uncertainty. I didn’t recognize the man I loved as my grandfather. Physically he was there, but he didn’t know who I was anymore. My advice would be it’s ok to mourn the memories you had/have with your loved one. No one can tell you how to feel. If you feel sad or mad or happy it’s all valid. I want the world to know that Alzheimer’s is not a joke. It’s not a punchline. It’s not just memory loss. We may be able to find the humor in our own experiences, but that doesn’t give anyone else the right to make fun. It’s a cruel, and often long-running disease. Through all the unkindness surrounding Alzheimer’s, my family was able to grow, and find peace and joy in our lives. We miss my sweet grandfather every day, but we’re so happy he is whole again.

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