My grandmother, who is 90 years old, was moved to the Alzheimer’s floor of her old folks home last week. She took a good fall and isn’t able to walk. She has been struggling with Alzheimer’s for years, but the spill really took it to another level. Due to the move she downsized from a one bedroom apartment to a studio with limited space. My parents and I went through her belongings this past weekend to organize what to send to my Aunt and Uncle and what to keep here. In going through her things I learned quite a bit about my family history. Two of my great-great grandparents on my Father’s side were born in Norway and two in Sweden. My great-grandmother was the 2nd of four children. Her family moved from Norway to Washington on the 22nd of November in 1887 when she was 12 years old. Four years later, in the Spring, they rowed to Ballard, Seattle to have a family picture taken. It’s amazing finding these old family photos. I will admit though, it makes it a lot easier to determine who they’re of when there are notes on the back.
My grandmother has always been extremely talented. She played a handful of sports in her youth. She bowled and square danced until she was about 80 years old I suppose. She draws, paints, carves, embroiders, knits, you name it. I remember having sweatshirts with Minnie Mouse painted on them and a Barbie furniture set she must have spent over a hundred hours making. There’s a ship she embroidered that I love dearly. Every time I’d visit her, even in her later stages of Alzheimer’s, we’d talk about the techniques she used to embroider the ship. She was very proud of that ship, but always complained about the french knots that comprise the tops of the waves. I empathize… french knots aren’t exactly my favorite embroidery technique either.
My grandmother grew up on the Hood Canal and spent a lot of time drawing. She continued drawing into adulthood, mostly people. You can see her aging through her drawings as the detail diminished. One of my favorites is a series she drew of my Dad when he was a young child. It reminds me of a series of photos of herself even though they were all taken at the same age. A very precious and rare drawing is of my father and his parents. I hope my Dad has an opportunity to frame that one.
It can be sad to see your loved ones age and go through Alzheimer’s, but I have such vivid and fond memories of my grandmother. I’m happy to have such tangible memories of those times.