The Longest Day 2018
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Eric's Story
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The eulogy from Grandma Helen's funeral. 

She could have died two years ago at the end of a very satisfying life, but instead, she hung around at heaven's doorway and gave us the most beautiful gift we could ever receive. She gave us the gift of unconditional love, and she gave us a chance to love without restraint. 

We will miss all the activity around her. She was always entertaining, directing, sharing and often commented on the beautiful bright light in the room. She loved to look at it, marvel at it's beauty, but until her 95th birthday, was never inclined to follow it. 

She lived a beautiful love story, her husband was always with her. She was often talking about her children, "What are they doing? Are they alright?" At times she was an old woman, and the next minute, she was young with children or a child herself asking for her dad.

A woman considered to no longer be in her right mind that never forgot to be kind, polite, gracious and thankful. We are struck dumb. We are always seeking in art, architecture and furniture that quality without a name that strikes you at the soul and moves your heart. You can't describe it, but you know exactly what it feels like. 

We were lucky enough to live with grandma who fully embodied that quality. What we will miss the most is that quality that can't be named. She filled our life with it. Looking at her face was like seeing God so thinly veiled, and we could not turn our eyes away. We had to smell her hair and kiss her face. We were transfixed and endlessly fascinated. A misperception is that when you care for someone so intimately, your world becomes so small. But when we would grasp her hand, our world expanded to the infinite; we will miss that.

After 92 you generally stop impressing people and you don't gather alot of new friends. Add full dementia to that equation, and your life can seem pretty insignificant, but she kept on gathering. She may not have realized it consciously, but she sensed it, and she knew she was loved by many. She continued to radiate love to all who met her and gained friends and inspired people up until the very end.
We just came across a scribbled note of one of our conversations with Grandma. It began with me asking her if she knew she was a blessing to us everyday. She replied with this:  "That is because you see the parts of me that I can't see."  She went on to say: 

"We go through our lives and learn so little of what we are supposed to learn. From the time we are infants on up, we learn and are taught the wrong things. We need some of it, but it is not what is really important. I am really trying to learn that now. We only see such a small part of who we really are." 

I wonder can someone be 95 and still be wise beyond their years?

To quote a favorite movie line, "The greatest thing to ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." And that was our life with Grandma Helen. Every morning she was a bright light of pure joy. "Aren't we lucky? We are so blessed. Isn't it beautiful?" She must of said these things a dozen times a day. 

Caregiving at times was very taxing, and sometimes we just felt incredibily exhausted. But then we'd go up to her and say, "Hello beautiful" and her face would light up with a beaming smile. She'd squeeze our hand and all our fatigue would just disappear. She was like magic. How could we be so lucky? She was truly our blessing. God sent us our own angel, a tiny little 86 pound lady with dementia. How amazing is that.


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.