Mom and P.J. enjoying some time together.
This is my FAVORITE picture! My Grandma just lit up, when she saw Pierce and so did he! It was precious.
After seeing Pierce, Grandma then went to the baby doll on the chair to us her baby.
Aunt Pattie and Pierce
Grandma Beard and most of her DeVaux Great Grandkids. Just missing Gabby and my 4 other kids.
Aunt Patti and Mom were walking Mom around and doing some singing. Grandma loves listening to music too.
Grandma and Uncle Tommy. She held his hand the whole time they were sitting next to each other and just looked so content to be with him and knew there was something there.
These were taken about a month and a half ago on my trip to Austin. Today is May 4th and over the past couple of day it looks like her time on earth will be coming to an end. They say she only has a day or 2 left. I thank Heavenly Father for the blessing of letting me see her one last time on this earth. I am grateful to call her Grandma and she will be truly missed. Thank you Grandma for raising your kids right and for all the good times I shared with you over the years. Love you!
My Grandma (my mom's mother) Beard has Alzheimer. It has been pretty bad for the past few years. She doesn't recognize anyone and in the last few months has not been able to speak much and, when she does it is just barely a whisper and most words we can't make out. After my Grandpa Beard passed away in March 2009, they put her in an assisted living home. She was in the earlier stages of it at this point, but it was bad enough that she definitely needed full time help.
I had not seen her since that March and had no idea just how bad and sad it had gotten. My mom had told me, but seeing it for myself was really hard. Luckily for all of her posterity she was amazing at keeping records of everything!! She made a cookbook with all her favorite recipes years ago and we each have one and so many of her recipes are my families favorites. She was always such a great cook. Mom would take us to visit them usually about 2 times a year. It was about an 8 hour trip and mom would usually drive it herself with us kids and without dad. Grandma would have a delicious homemade breakfast ready for us and orange juice. That's what always sticks out for me at least. We loved getting to go visit her and swing on the wooden swing in the yard or look for deer. One time we went swimming in the creek across the street. Since getting older, I have always regretted not really getting to know my Grandma better. I am sad that my kids won't get to meet her and hear her tell her stories. I am so amazingly grateful for the opportunity that I had to at least take P.J. to meet her and to see her one last time. She's an amazing woman. She had such a talent for writing everything down and keeping such good track of things. She made each of her grandkids a scrapbook of all the things that we sent her growing up and different things like that. I think that is where I get my love for making memories and writing them all down to remember and pass them on to my kids like she did for us. She was amazing with Genealogy and wrote a book called, Groing Up On Preston Road. She wrote all about her ancestors and stories she remembers from childhood. I cherish that book and that I have it to look on to get to know her even better.
Back in February I was talking to Pam on the phone and she said she was going to take her kids to Austin for Spring Break to see Grandma. We hadn't been to Austin in about 7 years, since my Grandpa Beard's funeral. That trip was a huge blur for me. Although I had no kids with me, I was also sick with mono and was on so much medicine that I slept most of the time and really wasn't up for socializing. So after hearing Pam was going we all decided it would be a great idea to get out there as well. It is about 22 hours to drive from Austin to Herriman, so I knew I couldn't drive the kids out with school and David couldn't go because of work. David suggested that I fly out with P.J. I was shocked and so excited. So we all started planning. I flew out to Arkansas on Thursday night, March 17th. I saw a lot of family and friends in just those 2 short days that I was there and ate a lot of yummy food. Then on Sunday the 5 out of 6 of us DeVaux siblings packed up and headed for Dallas. Unfortunately, Trish couldn't make it for this trip out and she was missed. :( We drove the 4 hours to Dallas and then ate at Abuelo's our favorite Mexican restaurant. I got to see my good friend and old roommate, Kim, who is living in Dallas now, for a little bit and then we saw our cousin. On Monday morning we all headed out and stopped in Waco to see the famous store from Fixer Upper. P.J. was not the best traveler...or good at all!! He hated it about 75% of the time, but somehow we survived and made it to Austin on Monday evening. There were 14 of the great Grandkids, 5 of grandkids and 2 in-laws, plus mom and dad. We all went to Grandma's assisted living home and showed up at the front desk, where the receptionist had this look of terror in her eyes, seeing all of us at once. I think she thought that we were a daycare or school! Mom went to her and told her we were there to see Marj and she did not look happy. Mom then explained that these were her grandkids and great grandkids. After that, she got so excited! She couldn't believe that we were all her grandkids and just from one of her children!! They took us to Grandma after that. She was eating dinner. I barely even recognized her. Her hair was straight instead of how she usually had it done. She seemed very nervous, when we went to her table where she was eating, so we let her eat a little longer and then she came into the visiting area. We all went around and told her who we were, since her memory of us was most likely gone, especially the grown up versions of all her grandchildren. One funny story. Dad was holding P.J. at the home and this lady in a wheel chair wheeled over to Dad and said, "give me that baby! I need to hold him!" Dad told her that he was not good with new people and that he better keep him, but she kept insisting and saying she knew how to hold a baby. It was pretty entertaining and Dad handled it well and kept P.J. with him. The workers say that when all the people in the home just love babies and so they keep baby dolls on hand for them to hold and play with. I went and introduced myself and Pierce (which is my Grandma's maiden name) and he just lit up!! He started squealing and reaching his hand out for her. That was the first time that day that I saw a little smile on Grandma's face. She held his hand and smiled, which is what that picture is above. The other siblings would talk to her and she would look back at Pierce, then she went over to the chair and picked up one of the baby dolls and held it for a minute before gently putting it down again. We stayed and chatted with her for a little bit and got some pictures with her. Every once in a while she would whisper something to us. Most of it was so hard to make out, but one time she said something about babies and kids. It was truly amazing to get to see her that night, even for the short time that it was.
After that we went to eat for dinner with our Aunts, Uncles and cousins that live there in Austin. We went and chatted at Tommy and Kim's that night for a little bit and then all went to bed. Some of us stayed with Tommy, some with Felicia and then a couple stayed in a hotel. With so many of us, its hard to have room for us all!! The next day we all went to my cousin Felicia's club house for lunch and to bring Grandma there to visit some more with us. Mom and Dad brought a delicious brisket from Arkansas that they had smoked and some barbecue. It was all so yummy. Grandma seemed a little overwhelmed. We went out and took some pictures with her and all of us. She was still just very interested by P.J. and seemed to react most, when he was around and wanted to hold his hand and look at him. I took him away for a minute so that the others could talk to her and she would just look over at Pierce and have such a sweet look on her face. It was so sweet to see that connection between the two of them. Tommy and Pattie told us that Grandma loved listening to music, so we turned some Pandora with 50's music on it. She would tap her feet and bop her head, when she heard it. She would also just light up when she saw Uncle Tommy. She held his hand and would just feel around his whole hand with her fingers. Mom and Aunt Pattie walked Grandma around the room and did some singing and dancing with her. She seemed to really enjoy that too. At the end when our time had run out at the clubhouse and everyone was cleaning up, I saw Grandma just sitting there and looked so lonely. So I went and started talking to her. I told her how my family goes to stay at her cabin that she has in Colorado and how much I loved seeing so many books and pictures that she had there and all the memories that she left for us. I told her how much I love the book she wrote and how grateful I am that she did so well at keeping even the daily things, so that I could really get a good picture of it. After I said that, she whispered that she liked books. I told her how much we also loved her cookbook that she had made so many years ago. I told her how we used to come and visit her for Spring Break wit her daughter, Kay. She would look up every few minutes and look me in the eye and just give a little smile. I told her that Pierce was named after her and that I now had 5 kids. I soaked up every minute that I could just sit and talk to her. Sometimes I wonder if now that she can't talk very much, if maybe she might recognize or remember us a little more than we know, but just can't tell us. We finished cleaning up and we all said our goodbyes and they took her back to the home.
I flew back home to Utah the next morning. My flight left at 6:30 and dad was gracious enough to take me to the airport at 4:00 in the morning. I stayed at the hotel the night before I left with mom and Dad. Pam was staying that night too, so we got to the hotel and mom and dad weren't there yet. It was about 9:30, when we got there, so we called mom and she said they were going to get a pizza from Mr. Gatti's! Good old mom and dad always love those late night snacks. Pam got her kids to sleep and then came over to eat with us. It really was delicious pizza. We used to have one in Hot Springs growing up and loved it because of the arcade area, but it turns out that it was as good as I remembered it. The next day I was back in Utah by about 10:30 a.m. I think and the kids were all very excited to have me home again to help out with the cooking.
I am so grateful that I had the chance to go see my Grandma one more time and that it all worked out so well to see her. I'm so scared for the future and pray that they find some kind of cure for this sad disease that runs on my mom's side of the family. It's so sad to think of how scary it must be to wake up and not know where you are or who you are with. I am so grateful that I have my faith though and that this will pass and we can all be made perfect again after death. Thank goodness for that knowledge that I have. I don't know what I would do without it. Thank goodness for tender mercies from God too, who sees that whole picture and knows exactly what we need, when we need it. I am so grateful to know that I am not alone in this life and that there is an eternity of happiness for us on the other side.