Places Change People Change Life Changes English Literature Essay

As we grow older, things change. Places change. People change. Life changes. It is the passing of life that everyone must experience. It is a passage that can often be cruel and difficult to deal with. Loved ones can become unrecognisable. Situations can become untenable. Life can become irreversible.

My Gran is an independent, strong willed woman who has an aura of Margaret Thatcher around her. She has a vibrant white hairstyle that is always combed over to her favoured right side. She is a very religious and moral person where God plays a major part in her life. Despite her seemingly formidable appearance, she is such a caring woman who dotes all of her grandchildren including me. I have shared such great memories with my gran. As a young boy she would take me down to the burn behind her house and she would tell the different plants and wildlife that were surrounding us. She used to say "Connor! Connor! If you don’t stop throwing stones into the river, I’ll throw you in it!" Still makes me laugh to this day! She taught me how to dance – despite my resistance to the idea- I can remember her tugging me and tugging me to get off the couch so she could teach me the waltz. No matter how hard I tried , I couldn’t master the steps but she used to always encourage me even though I kept getting the steps wrong " Try again Connor , shoulders upright! ". That was always a great quality of my gran’s, she was always patient with me and allowed me to take my time getting used to the steps. As a result, I now know how to waltz! My gran loved to dance as it allowed her to escape from a rough childhood. She lived through a World war when she was young and was living in Clydebank during the Blitz. I can remember her telling me about the bodies in the streets, finding out her friends were dead and to this day she becomes overcome with emotion. I don’t think she has ever gotten over the horror of such an ordeal. At this time during the war, she worked as a supervisor over the making of armed weapons for the war front. This , I think has made the strict and authoritative woman that she is today because when she was working as the supervisor , people’s lives depended on her, if a piece of equipment didn’t work then men could die. That iron- fistness that came from that job has formed a part of who she is today and I respect that. She was her own woman , she controlled her own life and the way she wanted it to go. Then something happened which changed all that.

Dementia.

Dementia : "Deterioration of intellectual faculties, such as memory, concentration, and judgment, resulting from an organic disease or a disorder of the brain, it is sometimes accompanied by emotional disturbance and personality changes". My gran has dementia. If there has been one thing I have taken from my gran’s condition, it is that dementia is mute. It’s silent. It’s gradual , unnoticeable. It started off with early signs like forgetting where her keys were , where she was.

Then one day she walked in and asked me who I was.

It was at this moment I knew that life had changed. My gran’s life had changed. I think that the biggest struggle for my gran was coming to terms with the fact that she had to be cared after. She had spent her whole life taking care of people , her family , friends but now the roles are reversed and she feels helpless. I see when she meets new people and they treat her as if she was a child and it infuriates me. Just because she has dementia , does not mean that she is helpless! She is still the strong willed woman I know her to be and I refuse to believe otherwise. Dementia has not just had a negative impact on our families lives, it has produced some hilarious moments too. My gran, despite not being able to remember people’s names and faces, has somehow remembered a conversation about her son Douglas with a teacher years ago. " If there was a big hole in the playground your Douglas would be in it" Since then , my gran has repeated the same line over and over again , so much so that every time I think of my uncle Douglas I think of my gran saying that line!

But life is not all sunshine and roses.

This condition has had a massive effect on my family especially for my mum. She has had to adapt to looking after her mum everyday and like my gran, she has changed as a person. She has become more frustrated with little things and takes it out on my gran sometimes although unintentional. I think it’s just her way of dealing with the situation. She has after all lost the person she admired and looked up to for years. For me, I find I can’t connect the same way that I used to be able to with my gran. We used to talk about school , football , girls. I used to be able to talk to her about anything. Now though , I can’t go through our usual talk as she always ends up asking me the same question over and over again. I feel drained after the 8th time of answering same question. When she realises that she forgotten certain things , I can see such heartbreaking emotion in her eyes, I can see as she comes to terms with the fact that she has lost the control she had on her life that before the dementia had formed a massive piece of who she was. It’s as if there is a darkening hole inside of her that she keeps trying to fill but has realised that the harder she tries to fill it, the deeper the hole becomes. I get the sense that she has given up hope of ever being the same person she was, of ever filling that gap that she is missing.

I think that there is a lesson in my gran’s situation. That lesson is that life is short. I know that it is a cliché but life changes too fast, faster than people can imagine. I realise now we should make the most of our time with the people we love before they scarcely recognise us or anything about us. I wish looking back now that I had spent more time with my gran before she lost a sense of who she was. On reflection, I was naive in thinking that things don’t change, that my gran would remain the strong, intelligent, independent, caring gran who controlled her own life. I now know that that is not how life works. I know that dementia has affected many people around the world and that they feel what I feel. The feeling that they have lost grip of someone that means so much of them and who forms a big part of their lives. Just like my gran feels like she is missing a piece from the puzzle so to I feel like I have lost something. When I’m spending time with my gran I sometimes feel transparent like a ghost as if my gran can’t see me.

As if I don’t exist.

Word Count: 1,267 words