Thursday, November 23, 2023

The First Family Holiday Where She Is Absent...

 I really look forward to the holidays, like Thanksgiving.  I love getting all of the family together.  I love cooking for everyone.  But in some ways I am glad that this Thanksgiving is behind us.  The daughters and grandsons were all here.  There was no family drama.  The food was excellent.  And there were five pies for nine people.  But Pam was essentially absent.  When the girls and their families arrived, Pam was asleep in bed.  I focused on getting the dinner finished and on the table.  Several of us tried to wake her for dinner, without success.  So we had Thanksgiving dinner without her.

It is just 5 pm.  The kids are all gone.  I just turned off the light in the bedroom.  She is sound asleep again.  We sat down to eat a little after 1:30pm.  Pam came wandering down the hall just as we were starting to clear the table from dinner.  She was walking slowly and was very groggy.  She recognized the grandsons right away and gave each of them a good hug.  Then she greeted the daughters.  I leaned over and asked if she wanted something to eat.  I fixed her a plate of mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, turkey, green beans, and squash.  She slowly ate her dinner.  That is another observation since the seizure.  She still feeds herself, but very slow and deliberate.  As we were beginning to cut into the pies, I glanced over at her and there was that completely blank stare again.  Her mouth was open and her head was not moving around the room.  Just a stare.  Like the lights were on but no one was home.

I cut her a piece of chocolate peanut butter pie and set it in front of her.  She was just staring out into space.    Eventually she picked up the pie and started to get out of her chair.  I asked if she was headed back to bed and she said yes.   Courtney and I got her tucked into bed as everyone lined up at the bedroom door.  It was time for folks to leave.  They wanted to give Gmom their good-bye hugs.  Each of the grandsons took turns saying good-bye and Happy Thanksgiving and filed out of the room.  I was the last to leave the room.  I was in tears.  Seeing her this way is so painful.  Thinking that this is probably the last Thanksgiving where she will recognize the grandsons.  I think this is the first time that most of the grandsons saw me crying.  Essentially we had our first holiday without Gmom.

The oldest grandson saw the tears.  He came over and hugged me.  It was a long hug.  I grabbed a tissue and sat back at the table.  He started asking questions about the dementia.  At nineteen years of age he clearly understands what is going on and more importantly understands the impact it is having on me.  For an instant I thought about how men rarely show their vulnerabilities.   But it went away quickly.   I am sad.  Sad to see what it is doing to her.  Sad that the grandsons see how she is being affected.  Sad that this was essentially the first family holiday where she was absent.  The banter around the table at dinner was the same as always.  But there was a hole.  A hole starting to get filled with tears.


  1. Brings tears to my eyes. This is so hard. My heart goes out to you, Bruce. Lynne actually had a good day today. First time out of the nursing home and it went well. You and Pam are in my thoughts.

  2. Dear Bruce - Please know there are others who care and share your grief. Much love from Jess and I.

  3. I know I can’t understand your personal pain. I do know I shed a few tears every holiday because of the hole in my heart. God bless.

  4. For some reason the Animals song came to mind.... She's Not There. I can't imagine your pain. I'm glad the grandkids new her before she was taken by the disease.