Grandpa, once a big, strong farmer who operated bulldozers and hauled truckloads of rock, cattle and corn, could no longer walk from his chair in the living room to the kitchen table without assistance.
I grabbed my camera and closed the van door. As I walked up the sidewalk, a question lurked in the back of my mind. Would Grandma even know me today?
Voices and laughter echoed through the house. In the living room, family members greeted us. Grandma looked up with a blank expression.
“That’s Sheri,” my mom said from across the room. “You remember my daughter, Sheri. Right, Mom?”
Grandma gave a slight, unconvincing nod. Maybe she thought I looked familiar in some vague way, but her eyes never seemed to register.
Over the next few minutes I listened to the same conversations I’d heard as a kid. Grandpa asked Dad if he'd gotten his corn picked before the snow started falling. Somehow, the discussions always focused on farming. Grandma sat silent.
I held my camera out to my aunt. “Would you mind?’
Curt and I sat on either side of my grandparents. Our girls settled down on the floor.
“I am so glad to see you here!” She patted my knee with her wrinkled hand.
I was completely caught off guard. Had Grandma suddenly recognized me? I couldn't say for sure, but I’ll never forget my initial thought when she spoke those words.
That’s probably what she’ll say when she sees me in heaven!
I let the idea settle over me. Of course. Grandma may not recognize me today, but she will definitely know me in heaven. I needed that little reminder to look at the big picture.
A few months later, Grandma and Grandpa moved into a full-time care facility. Sadly today, Grandma’s Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point that she can no longer form words. But I know this isn't the end of the story. Grandma and I will talk again.
Until then, I’ll treasure that photo with my grandma’s hand planted firmly on my knee. Each time I see it, my heart fills with thanksgiving because I know there’s a better future waiting for Grandma.
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