Personal Narrative: Living With Alzheimer's Home

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On my third Christmas, I helped my grandmother bake gingerbread houses. Together, we filled every surface in her kitchen and dining room with sweet smelling, sugarcoated creations fit for the cover of Cook’s Illustrated. After spending the entire day baking and assembling the intricate structures, we went out for dinner. When we got back to her home, my grandmother’s eyes opened wide as she beamed with delight. “Who made all of this beautiful gingerbread?” she asked. I only understood much later that Alzheimer 's disease was already then taking away my beloved grandmother from me.
This was the last Christmas my grandma spent in her own home. By the time I turned four she had to move in with us as Alzheimer 's took its toll. Living with my grandmother gave me the opportunity to grow up under her guidance. Like her, I too began to slip away from what might be seen as ‘normal’. Even as a young boy it was made clear that ‘normal’ was never something I would be. I have struggled with my identity for as long as I can remember. I always wanted to dress up in princess’ clothes, never as a superhero. I opted for toys such as Barbies instead of monster trucks. And when crushes developed in kindergarten, it was Dylan Harvey whom I wanted to play tag with, not Danielle Robertson. My parents were too in denial and distracted to
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My grandmother passed away in December of 2014. For the first time in my life, I felt loneliness and abandonment. The morning after she died, I woke up, dragged myself out of bed, and baked cookies. I spent the better part of the day creaming butter & sugar and whisking flour & baking soda. By the end of the day, I must have made a thousand cookies. And just like my grandmother would have done, I packaged them up, drove to my old neighborhood, and delivered plates of cookies to some of the people who shared my luck in knowing the caring, fierce, and loving woman that taught me how to accept myself. After that, it was hard to feel alone or to stop
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