Je t’aime Sweetheart

My name is Kelsey Morceau-Cruz. I was born November 3rd 1998 to Bridgette Morceau and Nicolas Cruz. Day to day I was raised by my mother. My great grandmother Irene Andre often watched me on days that I did not want to attend pre-school at Sunrise Academy because I thought Reverend was so mean. At the age of Five I was a hand full to say the least and did not attend kindergarten till I was six because of my birthday. The cutoff date to attend school at the age of Five gave me extra time to spend with my meme (what we call Irene). I began to spend more time with meme than usual and we noticed odd behavior followed by forgetfulness. One day leaving Walmart Meme had forgotten how to find her house. She was old school so she did not have a cell phone. As a little girl, you could imagine how in panic I was because Meme could not get us back to her house! Eventually we found our way back but this was an eye opener to our family that something just quiet was not right with Irene. My mom decided to make a doctor’s appointment seeing a specialist for those who need to get evaluated for Alzheimer’s after Irene’s Primary Dr. suggested we do so. Out of our whole family no one stepped up to take care of Irene besides her sweet Bridgette the midget. This became very heart breaking when getting the news Meme had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In this moment, my mother decided at the age of 23 she would be the one to take care of Meme leaving her job and getting rid of my childhood house.

A glimpse of what is it like day to day for Irene

October 31st 2009 was move in day. Moving a elderly lady diagnosed with Alzheimer’s was not an easy task. Thankfully my mother and I had help from our family members. I mean it was the least they could do. My eleventh birthday felt like a nightmare and I was such a brat because I did not have patience and compassion like my mom had with Irene. Watching my mom daily deal with Irene’s outburst of anger, hallucinations, and lists of never ending questions made me want to be just like my mom the older I got. Someone always had to be home with Meme. My mother and I could not both go somewhere together for more than four hours because Meme would wander outside. As I experienced and witnessed all these different events in my life just from caring for someone with Alzheimer’s it has taught me to not take life for granted, how to care for others and have respect for your elders, along with patience.

My mother and Meme

From living with Irene I’ve learned to not take life for granted. In the beginning Irene used to go to an adult daycare where they played games, she would go out to eat with my mom and great grandpa but over time that all stopped. She got worse and eventually just stayed home every day. She spends 18 out of our 24 hour day time frame in her room only coming out to eat three times a day. Growing up watching someone deteriorate sitting in a chair like a vegetable, looking at you as if you have five heads because they cannot remember who you are is what made me not want to take my life for granted. As cliche as this may sound it is important to me to make time for those who truly matter and to make sure I grow everyday by trying to learn something new.

Great Grandpa 90th B-day

Caring for others everyday takes a lot of energy. In my opinion it also takes a vast amount of physical and mental strength. You must have selflessness to meet that persons needs before your own. Alzheimer’s is like becoming a baby again but remaining in your adult size body. Helping take care of Irene has taught me what it is like to truly care for someone and put that person before yourself. Some like Irene truly need others or else they would be hopeless. Even on the worst days when you feel like throwing in the towel you can’t. For example, some mornings I can wake meme up to her all-time favorite thick and fluffy strawberry waffles and Irene will be as nice as can be but on other days I could get cursed out and called a piece of shit in French. In those moments, I have wanted to yell at her back and tell her to make her own dang breakfast every day and take care of herself because I just do not want to anymore. However, that is a waste of time being that in a few moments she will not have any recollection of your outburst and she will be just dandy. Instead I have learned to deal with the outbursts because it is not truly my loved one who is yelling at me, Irene typically has outbursts like that when she wakes up looking at me as if she has never seen me a day in her life. Another example, is when she may have accidents on her bathroom floor and your day is on a tight schedule but everything gets side tracked because you walked into her bathroom stepping in a puddle of urine on the floor. It becomes frustrating but you again learn you’re caring for someone else and in the end of the day they are your loved one.

Only Holidays can we get her out of the house (she looks scary here)

Patience is virtue. I did not take in what a privilege it has been to grow up and care for someone with Alzheimer’s when I was younger. The disease takes away the memory of your loved one. Often, I would reminisce on the old memories I had shared with my sharp sound mind great grandmother and would get angry as I felt the old her slip away. At first everyday was a struggle. Until I came to the realization that even though the old great grandma who used to teach me the alphabet and how to speak French still could impact my future. I thought she would never teach me anything ever again, instead she has taught me how to have patience, be appreciative, and how to care for someone other than myself. I am beyond thankful to have had this privilege of spending almost 9 plus years with her tucking her in every night and hearing her sweet soft voice say “Je t’aime sweetheart” will never get old. I would not be the young lady I am today without her.

“There is one thing Alzheimer’s cannot take away and that is love. Love is not a memory- it’s a feeling that resides in your heart”.
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