This year for Christmas, I was able to see my great great-aunt. In all honesty, I can’t remember the last time I saw her, but I know it’s been too long. Several years, at least. I always felt a special connection with Aunt Rose. We share the same birthday. This year, she’ll be ninety four. Unfortunately, my mom didn’t find out until after I was legally named. She still laments she wish she knew so Rose could’ve been a middle name for me. Hence my author name. I adopted Rose in remembrance of my aunt. Fae was added because I liked the sound of the two names together. On Christmas Day, I found out that my aunt has also been a writer. She had apparently written over a thousand stories and drew pictures to go along with them. This soldified my desire for my pen name. Regrettably, none of the stories were saved when my extended family moved her to a nursing home. I mourn for the loss of those works. It’s been four years since I declared myself a writer, and no one told me of my aunt’s gift. She used to write me letters. Long letters with excellent cursive, signed with her name and cartoon drawings of her face. I doubt she remembers writing such letters, much less her stories.
When my immediate family and I visited her, she couldn’t remember us. Didn’t recognize our faces. I won’t lie. It was hard. I wanted to speak to her, but I never found my voice. I’ve come to terms with the fact that may have been the last time seeing her before she dies. My only regret is I couldn’t even tell her I loved her. All I could think of was, “Would she remember?” She barely recognized her sister (my great-grandma), who will be ninety. Until it came time to leave. Then she remembered her sister. Begged her not to leave her alone. It took everything I had not to cry in front of my family. My sister remained with our great-grandma to say goodbye. I couldn’t. I should have. How could I muster the words to say goodbye? Would she have remembered if I did? Will she remember that I was the only one who didn’t talk to her? But what was I supposed to say? She claimed she didn’t know us. I didn’t know how to respond. But I can’t blame her.
Alzheimer’s has been hitting her hard these past few years. It’s been a downhill struggle from what I gather. She used to look at our pictures and tell us she prayed for us every night. This time, however, she couldn’t remember our pictures. We probably overwhelmed her. There were many times I could tell she was scared. She didn’t want us to leave, but it was hard for her the little bit we were there. She wanted so badly to remember. I could see it in her eyes. It frustrated her.
I don’t know much about her earlier life. I know she immigrated from Italy and was married. She was devoutly religious, attending church every Sunday. I know she was a school teacher for at least forty years, and her students loved her. Many visited her in the nursing home until she couldn’t recognize them anymore. I know she loved birds, flowers, and the sweet things of life. Loved to smile. She loved to hear what we were up to in life. Last she remembered of me, I was in college. That was four years ago. I dropped out after the first semester. I wish I could tell her I’m aspiring to be a published author. That I have a blog I post stories to, and people are interested in reading them. I’m not sure if that would make her proud, but I like to think it would. One of the best things I will remember about her is she’s one of the sweetest ladies I’ve had in my life. However, she is Italian, so she can hold her own with the best of them. But she only wanted everyone to succeed in their dreams. She was supportive of whatever we wanted to do. I suppose that’s the teacher in her.
If my life hadn’t been so crazy the past couple years, I would like to think I would’ve seen her more. Like to. I can’t change the past. Who knows what the future holds. I know I’ll miss her immensely when she’s gone. My only hope is I can keep her legacy living in my pen name and my own stories and art. It’s hard. There hasn’t been a step in this post that I haven’t cried. Though there hasn’t been as many steps as normal. This is pretty much unedited and raw emotion. On that note, I apologize for grammar and/or spelling errors. I need to deal with these emotions, and the only way I know how is through writing. I’m trying to get this done as quickly as possible so I can mentally move on. I can’t think of anything else I need to share at the moment. I think this is a good basis. I wouldn’t wish Alzheimer’s on anybody. It not only affects the patient but their family. I sincerely empathize with anyone who has gone through this experience. Especially more than once. I have no closing words, so I’ll just end this here.