The changes were so small at first that probably she even didn't notice it. Trying to recall a name, a date, what she had done the previous day. Then she would forget where she put something, leave the bath water on until it was overflowing. Burn food on the stove or in the oven because she forgot it was there.
Then these changes became slowly visible to those closest to her. My grandmother did a lot of the house work. When she put dishes away no one could ever find them because they were not in their usual place. She would clean up and put stuff away and we wouldn't see them for months. Then she couldn't remember which month we were in and then which year.
Right after the fire it was decided that my disabled aunt should go to a home. My grandmother had looked after her for over 40 years. Since my grandmother had reached her 70's she started to have difficulty managing. Once my aunt was in the home my grandmother visited almost every afternoon. Soon she deteriorated to the point where she was actually forgetting to go and see my aunt. And when she got to the home, she was never able to find my aunt's room and would get lost. Despite this she still continued to go whenever she could.
My grandmother had a weird habit of always falling asleep during movies or during the sermon in church. But soon all she had to do is sit down for five minutes and she would fall asleep right then. One time she was holding a cup of hot tea, fell asleep and let go of the mug, pouring the scalding liquid into her lap. A fracture to her arm and a bout of hepatitis only seemed to worsen her memory.
We all just thought that it was all part of age. But then she was forgetting people's names and eventually couldn't remember the names of those living with her without some prompting. She couldn't find her clothes or her medication. She would make us multiple cups of tea forgetting that she had already made the tea. Then she forgot how to tell the time.There were huge fights because my Mom did not want my grandmother to do housework anymore but my grandmother refused to give up anything that she saw as her duties. Having to constantly look for things made us all angry.
When I moved to England at the age of 20 my parents had moved to a house on an apple farm. Although my grandmother's memory was pretty shot she was still able to do basic things for herself and it was fine to leave her alone in the house for a few hours. The Christmas before I left I realised that something serious was wrong with my grandmother and that it was not simple forgetfulness. I had taken my grandmother shopping for presents for my Mom and Dad. That was the Christmas it snowed on the mountains (despite it being SUMMER in South Africa) so I settled her next to the heater in her room with a cup tea and went to my room to wrap presents. It must have been 5 or 6 times in the space of 30 minutes that she burst into my room panicking that she had not bought a present for my Mom. Not only did this mean that she had forgotten the entire day's events but she was forgetting what I was telling her 3 minutes after I had spoken to her.
When I said goodbye to my grandmother at the airport, she held me tight crying almost silently pleading me not to go. When I returned 3 and a half years later, she greeted me as though I was a stranger. She had been told over and over again who I was and she was very kind and polite. But her association of me, her memories of me, her love for a grand daughter had disappeared. While I was overseas I had gotten updates here and there of her slow decline. I spoke to her quite a few times, normally my Mom would be prompting her the background. But I missed most of it and I came home to find her drastically changed.
So, you would think that in these circumstances I would have nothing but compassion for her. Well you are wrong...this is where the pure evil of me came out. I returned to South Africa in 2007 a completely different person. A terrifying, horrific mental breakdown 6 months before and ripped everything that I was and everything that I had known and believed in to shreds. The past which I had worked so long to suppress was now demanding to be acknowledged and dealt with. My grandmother had now conveniently forgotten everything but I still remembered it all with a sharp sting as though it had happened yesterday. Now because she was so weak and had forgotten everything that happened, she was an innocent little lamb. I couldn't confront her, I wasn't allowed. Those fights that we had had in the past were no longer acceptable (not that they were acceptable in the first place) and were actually dangerous for her mental state. So I just had to button it and...forgive.
I'm sure some people can relate when I say it is impossible to forgive someone when you are fulled with such black rage that you could be motivated to kill a person if it came down to it. I had no way to express this rage, no chance for an absolution. I just had to "hold it" and as my mother LOVES to say, "Forget about the past". I couldn't hold it... someone had to pay for what was done to me and because my grandmother had no way of fighting back now didn't mean I couldn't get some revenge.