For some time now, we've been worrying about Grandma - she's been slipping into mild depression since realizing that she can't seem to remember things. Sometimes she sits alone in the dark unable to sleep. Sometimes she cries. I find out later from Mom that she had misplaced some money, and couldn't recall where she left it. Other than that triggering incident, Grandma seems to forget, too, simple recent things like what she had for her last meal (hey sometimes that happens to me too..).We think it might be the beginning of Alzheimer's, but it is too early to tell.
Once when I was sitting in the living room with her, she said to me quietly,"Grandma is old now, useless, cannot remember anything, my mind is empty, it feels empty here(with her hand over her heart)." As best as i try to translate this, believe me, it is a hundred times more poignant in Hokkien, my grandma's mother tongue, and the only language she speaks.
She weeps. I've never seen Grandma cry. I respond and try to say it's ok, she has all of us with her, her family. She doesn't stop crying: I guess it's immensely overwhelming once it gets to you. I feel helpless. I got up and went to her, and hugged her. It was the first time in 28 years that i've ever hugged my grandma, who brought me up through my wilful childhood, saw me through my rebellious teenage years. The one I loved the most, who always had a patient word for my tempers.
I hugged my grandma. She cries sadly, and as much as i know this is strange to her, she puts her arms around me and hugs me back. Tears are wetting my eyes, and even as I write this.
Another possibility is that it could be situational depression - loneliness, in which case we will have to put in more conscious efforts to keep grandma company, even just calling her for a few minutes from work in the day.
She seems a little better now. One morning I woke up early and it was still dark and was getting ready to go to the gym, Ah-ma woke up too, saw me and asked "Why are you up so early?" and i answered instinctively "I was hungry and couldn't sleep" :P She laughed.
A week later, we were having lunch at home, and Grandma kept putting food into my bowl and said (even after I've finished the rice) "Why don't you eat some rice? Rice will fill you up." I replied that I've finished my rice. She laughed her usual jovial laugh, turned and said softly to my uncle, "Hungry cannot sleep".
You see, we remember the most important things, things about people who matter most to us; and as much as memory fails us, love doesn't. :)