My Nana was one of my favourite people.
We were close as I grew up and I treasured our outings.
We would go to lots of community events together. Canada Day, Kelowna Regatta, flea markets.
Somehow we would always end up somewhere for lunch.
When my Popups passed away, we grew closer. I would take her grocery shopping, and drive her on various errands.
Once again, we would end up somewhere for lunch. Usually in a spot that had a good lemon meringue pie. Her favourite.
My Nana was a smart, opinionated lady.
She wasn’t afraid to ask awkward questions and sometimes this lead to a few red faces.
She always had a story about her childhood and would use an example to teach me a lesson.
For example, when I started drinking coffee, I would use cream and sugar. Every time I put sugar in my coffee, Nana would lecture me on how valuable sugar was. It was rationed during the war and should never be wasted flavouring coffee.
Nana was quirky. She cut articles out of the paper and wrote little notes to remind herself of why she cut it out.
She hated her eyebrows so she plucked them and drew them herself. Nana wore a wig because she didn’t like her hair.
Above all, Nana loved her grandchildren and always wanted to know what they were doing. She was always in the know when it came to family gossip.
That’s what made it so hard when we started to notice that she wasn’t as sharp as she used to be.
This was more than the usual decline as we age. This was dementia.
It started slowly.
Getting frustrated at the till when she got confused trying to pay.
Forgetting to turn off appliances.
Eventually, my family had to make the tough decision to move her to Calgary where there was proper care.
Someone to make sure she didn’t forget to take her prescriptions. Someone to make sure she ate.
The move made the dementia worse.
The stress of new surroundings made her irrational and angry.
She lashed out at care workers and refused to cooperate.
Nana’s last few years were hard on family but she was oblivious to that.
Her mind had washed all her memories away and while she was reasonably happy, she wasn’t Nana anymore.
I didn’t get to see her because it was easier to limit how many visitors she received.
My Nana would have been horrified if she knew this was how her life would end up.
She would have wanted to know her options and at that time, there weren’t many.
Nana wouldn’t want to spend her final years having someone care for her like a toddler.
That’s why the conversation about assisted dying is so important.
Whatever your opinion, how we treat those with little or no quality of life needs to be thought of.
I think a person should be able to choose the way they would like to leave this life, in particular in the cases where the individual is or will experience great pain.
The current legislation doesn’t go far enough but it is a good start.
My Nana certainly would have had a lot to say about it.
Rob Murphy is the sales manager at the Summerland Review.