Alice

I've got a confession. My name is not Alice.

I often use the name Alice online when I want some level of anonymity. It's a very thin veil, but I do prefer it.

Alice in Wonderland is my favorite book, which, I guess, makes Alice my favorite character in all of fiction. That's saying a lot. Ok, now I should use this sentence and the next to tell you more about what I love about Alice, how Lewis Carroll changed my life, and so on. Maybe I'll do that at another time; right now, I'm going to tell you about my gran'mom.

I often use the name Alice online when I want some level of anonymity.

My grandmother, whose name really was Alice, lost much of her mental capacities in the years before she died. She became angry and spiteful, incredibly paranoid. I remember going over to her house to visit -- especially after my grandfather had passed and she was living alone. Gran'mom and my mother would get into these fights; they were so loud. I can't remember anything specific, nothing about what my grandmother said, except that I know she could be pretty mean to my mom.

She wasn't mean though. That's the thing. It was dementia.

I remember people talking about her and to her, trying to help. They said she had a demon. They said she was possessed by the devil and that she needed to accept Jesus. They said she was a child of satan.

She didn't always respond, but when she did, she only said one thing. She talked about Jesus, the first time in my memory that she spoke so openly about him at all. She told us about how He was with her as a child and how she trusted in him as a teen. This happened twice in my hearing, and I know my parents spoke about her saying the same sort of things previously. They questioned the validity of her faith in these secondhand accounts, and so did I. But, when I heard her speak of the Lord myself, it was different. She meant everything she said.

She wasn't mean though. That's the thing. It was dementia.

By this time Gran'mom was very unwell. She'd been in and out of the hospital a couple of times. She was increasingly difficult to be around and to deal with. I will never forget the way she looked at me in that hospital room. She was afraid and told me to back away. She did not know me at all.

She didn't know a lot of things, and she knew she didn't. Perhaps that's why her speaking of Jesus was so unusual. It was as if she couldn't be sure of anything -- except him. The way she talked about him, saying the same thing several times over, was life. She was losing her mind, and she was dying. And she knew it.

I expected her to get angry, to say something about her good work, about how she helped build the church, cared for children as a teachers' aid, and raised eight of her own. She told these stories sometimes, before, when she was ok; I expected her to bring her accomplishments up now in her own defense. She didn't. She hardly said anything about herself at all.

I will never forget the way she looked at me in the hospital. She was afraid and told me to back away. She did not know me at all.

My grandmother was not possessed by demons. She was a beautiful woman, purchased by the blood of Christ. Because of harsh life experiences, she learned to distrust physicians, and so, by the time she was admitted to the hospital, she was in the final stages of Alzheimer's. Her enraged outbursts were from a damaged brain.