My Gaga & Alzheimer’s

kilbourn-women

My Gaga & Me, 2 weeks old

Reading with Gaga, 3 years old

 

When I was a little girl, I loved going to my grandmother’s house and seeing glimpses of her childhood. She would pull out a stack of pictures and show me the horse she rode as a teenager, a big chestnut gelding named Flash. She loved talking about her father and his mill in the small town she grew up in, Bristol, Vermont. Tears often filled her eyes when she spoke of her childhood and the family she loved so much. She moved to Florida as a young adult after marrying my Grandfather, spending her life away from her family while she raised 4 small children, 3 boys and a girl (my Mom). This was long before the era of free long distance and Skype, so they made the annual drive up to Vermont in their station wagon, all on back roads. I can’t imagine being so far away from my Mom without our FaceTime and blogs to keep us in touch. My Gaga is an incredibly strong woman: working full time (nights as a nurse) while raising 4 kids under 5 years old (THREE boys!)

 

Gaga on her wedding day

 

She’s older now and Alzheimer’s has creeped in, stealing her sharp memory and forcing her to repeat herself. I try to be patient as she tells me the same story she told 5 minutes before, and 5 minutes before that. I know that will be my mother in 30 years and me in 50. We recently moved my Gaga to an assisted living apartment. This is the same woman who only 5 years ago would mow her own 15 acre plot of land in Vermont- the same land that belonged to her Grandfather. Aging is so bittersweet. I love seeing my son grow into a little boy and tell me stories about airplanes while my daughter beam as she sits up on her own for the first time, but it really hurts to see my fiercely independent Gaga lose the freedoms she was always so proud of. I’m so glad I moved to Rhode Island 7 years ago and was able to spend summers and long weekends visiting with her while her memory was still clear. I will cherish those memories forever.

This is life. Before I know it, I will be watching my children have their own children and I will be worrying about my Mom. I see my Mom in me more than ever and my Gaga in her. I will get to visit* my Gaga in her new home on this trip back to Florida and she will get to meet the fourth generation Kilbourn woman, Sidney Ann. We have a photo shoot planned for this trip to capture the memories, even if my Gaga won’t remember them.

 

Four generations of Kilbourn women, plus my little Jackson

 

*I wrote this on my flight to Florida on Wednesday. Visiting my Grandma’s new home was great, she is happy and thriving. We also had a great family photo session and I can’t wait to share the pictures with you!

Sidney’s Bouncing for College!

I have never begged for votes and am totally not comfortable doing it, but Sidney is so close to winning $500 for college I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. Check out her video on the ExerSaucer Facebook page, she is having so much fun jumping! All you do is click vote on her video, embedded below– you can also vote once a day.

I love you guys, thank you! XO Oh yeah, if she wins– I’ll give away an Alex & Ani bracelet to one of you! The contest ends on April 30th and you can vote one time/day :)

ETA: Apparently people are accusing some people of cheating because they’ve leaped up to 800+ votes, so we don’t stand a chance but I’d like to thank you anyway–soooo I’ll get a bracelet when I get home to give away!

 

Here’s the direct link: https://apps.facebook.com/exersaucer_contest/media/view/?id=36071

PS. The video may not work on iPads/iPhones, it’s a Facebook app that seems kind of buggy- I’m sorry! Thank you for trying!