Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Tomorrow I am making chili. It's not a special recipe, just the a basic hamburger and spice combo, and in a great fit of sentimentality, kidney beans. I don't normally put beans in my chili unless it's the vegetarian version, but the past couple of days I'm missing my grandparents lots, especially Nany, my mother's mother.

I think the reason I miss her so much is that when I was talking to my mother on the phone Saturday, she forgot who she was talking to...twice. She's probably in the early stages of Alzheimer's according to her doctors, and the medication she's on has helped some, but for the past several weeks when we talk she seems...different. Christmas before last she forgot that I had told her my father was in the hospital after four heart attacks in as many days, so this shouldn't be much of a shock. (He's fine now.) While she has other health problems, it seems easier to dismiss those as just a part of aging than it is to accept the memory lapses and subtle personality changes as this horrid illness that could take her away before she's gone from us.

Part of what bothers me is I don't know how to ask her if she's aware of it. Or even if I should. Would it point out the obvious to her and make her depressed? Would she ask "What memory lapses?" and be offended? Or would she just shrug it off and go on to tell me what happened on the last Days of Our Lives episode? (Which might actually be her most likely choice!)

My grandparents would have a wise answer. Knowing my grandmother, Nany, she would have said "Honey, just ignore it and enjoy your conversation." My grandfather would have said the same thing.

All my grandparents had very sharp minds, right to the very end. But with my mother it's hard to think of her leaving us kids months or years before her body dies. I guess everyone who has, or had, a loved one with Alzheimer's or any other form of dementia goes through this. I think it's time I found a support group.

And now she's got me watching DOOL, as if General Hospital wasn't enough! (Which I've watched since it came on, btw...)

As for the chili, I'd post the recipe, but it's never the same recipe twice because none of the cooks in the family ever wrote the recipe down in the first place. Or any recipe for that matter. There were few cookbooks when my grandmothers were growing up, so you learned to cook by watching and doing.

Maybe when I make the chili tomorrow I'll keep track of what I use and post the recipe afterwards. That way, my siblings and my neices, nephews, and anybody else for that matter, will be able recreate the recipe, even if I someday forget.

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