Features

An Open Letter To… Dementia

© Rachel Jefferies
Features want to get personal and what’s more personal than a letter? Whether it’s to your younger self, future self, idol or your hometown, a letter is sometimes the best way to get our true feelings down. But we’re doing things differently here at Quench… we’re publishing them. So keep an eye out for a series of up-close and personal letters from Quench’s Features section!

Dear Dementia,

This a letter that I wish could be delivered, opened, and responded to. But it isn’t. You’re not going to tell me why, Dementia – you’re not going to be giving me a reason for your evil. Tell me why you get a kick out of destroying my grandmother. You take her memories, which are all that one has at the end of a lifetime, and you take her loving personality. You’re cruel. You ruin more than one life when you pick a sufferer. But fret not, Dementia, this will not only be a very hateful letter (which it will), but also it will be commendation on what a twister joker you can be: you’re not all doom and gloom, Dementia.

Let’s talk about my grandma. My grandma was the most generous and fun-loving sweetheart you could ever meet. Sadly, she is now a shell of who she once was. She’s short-tempered and selfish and she is unapologetic for the stress she can sometimes cause.  And I would never blame her: it’s your fault, Dementia. She sits in her chair, desperately trying to remember the names of all the great-grandchildren running around her, trying to remember where I am every time I’m away at university (“No, Gran, I’m not still doing my GCSEs”). That is what you do. She cries on the occasions that she’s aware she’s unwell. You make an innocent old lady cry and panic as she realises she doesn’t know the answer to a simple question. She’s embarrassed.

© Pixabay

Let’s talk about my mum. My poor mum. You have destroyed my mum more than you’ve destroyed my grandma. At least most of the time Gran doesn’t realise she’s unwell or unhappy, but mum always knows and has to live with you every second of the day. I hate seeing her on the edge every single day, I hate seeing her crying over the fact she’s grown to resent her own mother. That’s the honest, horrid truth. How can she not resent her? She is tied to look after her, morning and night, with no break and no thanks. It’s hard. She’s become a very sad, very lonely and very stressed woman – and that is not the woman she wants to be. So screw you for destroying two generations of the women in my family. Hopefully I’m not next.

Let’s talk about you. I want to do what I said I would, and congratulate you on your sick sense of humour. Everything I’ve said about the sadness and illness you bring into my family is true, but I need to tell you that we also laugh at you. We laugh every single day. And until a medical cure is found for you, laughter is the next best cure. When we wake up every single day, we know at least 10 phrases my gran will say every day and exactly when she’ll say them. For example, she’ll get up, walk into the kitchen, look out the window, and say “lovely day, bit windy”. Every day. Regardless of the weather. Now that might not seem very funny but when you hear it every day without fail and you know it’s coming, it’s much easier to have a giggle about it than to let it drive you crazy. It’s also easy to laugh when you play games with my gran and she’s useless. Ask her a trivia question, and she will not be able to tell you a damn thing. It’s amusing, for all of us. And my brave mum and my brave gran join together and laugh at you, they laugh at her illness for making her so hilariously loopy sometimes. It’s like old times then: like a normal family playing games and laughing. But it’s so much more, it’s a family under duress, laughing at you, Dementia. Saying a big eff you and putting our two fingers up to the misery you try to bring.

Let’s talk about me. I want to tell you that you are winning. We, as a family, win some battles – when we are laughing at you, or when (on a rare occasion) she does remember her great-grandchildren’s names – but on the whole, you win the war. You’re winning the war when 9 times out of 10 we aren’t laughing, we’re just pulling our hair out and trying not to cry with frustration. I want to also tell you that I love my gran and I love my mum, despite how you have altered them, and if you ever alter me I know I will still be loved too. Laughter and Love will break your attempts to break people, Dementia. You can take people’s memories and you can take all the good parts of their personality, if you want, you monster. But what you can’t take is our family unit and our determination to beat you in our own way – which is simply to try and live with you and be as happy as possible.

Yours (quite literally),

Charlotte.

By Charlotte Clark

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