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My grandmother has stage 7 dementia.

She can't hold conversations or have coherent thoughts. She communicates in grunts and groans when she even cares to communicate at all. She can't eat food by herself anymore. I have to spoonfeed her mushed-up meals and sit her up so she doesn't choke. She can't recognize her family who have loved her for 95 years.

I have to force-feed her medicine that has been ground up. She hates the taste, so she always protests it and fights me on it. She soils herself in her diaper frequently, something she hates because she doesn't like how they feel on her sensitive skin. I always clean her up, even if she tries to fight me. She constantly tries to escape from her bed, even though her legs haven't worked in months. She gets mad at me for keeping her in her bed.

But I still do it all for her.

I won't lie, it's been hard for me. I've lost a lot of sleep over these last few months taking care of her. I've neglected social duties. I've neglected my partner, who I eventually felt I had neglected to the point of sabotaging our relationship. I've even gained some weight from ordering so much takeout since I just don't have the energy to cook anymore. Every day is a new low. The last few months have become some of the worst of my life.

But today, she looked at me and called me by my name.

The last time she did that was before she started to slip. I didn't even know she still remembered my name deep down inside. I don't know why, but that little moment made me cry. It's not like she's going to be okay, or she's going to recover, no. The truth is that it will only get worse from here. But a minor thing such as her calling me by my name and not just grunting to get my attention was enough to make my day. Even if I had to fight with her to take her medicine mere minutes later.

It inspired me to write a poem for her. It goes like this:

You watched me come into this world
And loved me before I loved myself
You watched me grow up
But now my face you cannot recognize
I love you, but do you still love me?

The person I have become
A miserable, withdrawn, saddened type
All for taking care of you
Am I selfish for wanting you gone?

I've never known a love like yours
So warm, welcoming, and gentle
Like the soft breeze of a Havanese night

You watched me come into this world
And now I watch you leave it

Te quiero, Mima.

Talk to your grandparents while you still can. You may not think much of it now, but you will regret not having done so when they're gone.

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