'The memory thief became a regular visitor, taking pieces of my grandma.'

12 year old A'yaan won first prize in his school's public speaking competition. He wrote this emotional piece about his grandmother, who has Alzheimer's disease. We have published A'yaan's piece here completely unedited.

A'yaan and his grandmother

A'yaan (aged two) with his grandmother.

Piece by Piece

By A’yaan Abdul-Mughis, aged twelve

She was a formidable woman was my grandma. A zoologist to the science world. A teacher to her students. An author to her readers. But for me, she was just plain old grandma.

MY grandma. Who was always busy rustling up something or other in the kitchen. I would lay the table and she would ladle piles of steaming hot food into dishes, which we would just about find room for on the massive mahogany table. Then we would all gather round to eat and listen to grandma’s stories. And this is how it was for years. My high chair became a booster seat and the booster seat gave way to a smart carver chair at the head of the table. But the food and the stories never changed.

Thinking back, it must have been one of those days, when we were all sat together round the table. Loving. Laughing. Living. That an uninvited guest came in, unbeknownst to us, and stole a piece of my grandma. Just like that. She didn’t notice, and neither did we but the memory thief had reached in and taken the first small piece.

“Where have I put my glasses?” said Grandma for the third time that evening.

“They’re on your nose, grandma,” I said for the third time that evening.

But still we didn’t realise that she was losing her memory. Piece by insidious piece.

Months and years passed. The memory thief became a regular visitor, taking pieces of my grandma. Leaving holes. Holes that if they had been empty would have been kinder. But he left them filled with confusion, isolation, desperation. Piece by nostalgic piece.

Unravelling the rich magnificent tapestry which had taken eighty years to become a unique masterpiece. The memory thief kept pulling and pulling at the fringes and now my grandma is threadbare and worn out. Just a fragment of what she was. Piece by pathetic piece.

And now the memory thief must be sitting somewhere dangling his legs and rubbing his hands with glee.

“I’ve deleted her memory bank and stripped her of her self. Her family could do nothing to stop me and now, huh, I’ll start on someone else.” He’s cruelly counting the pieces of my grandma. Piece by beautiful piece.

“What will you do with all those pieces?” I want to scream at him. “It was bad enough that you took my grandma away from me. But did you have to take her away from herself leaving a broken shell? Drained of memories, thoughts and words.”

Piece by piece.

Piece by painful piece.

A'yaan's grandmother

Dementia Connect support line
Our dementia advisers are here for you.
Think this page could be useful to someone? Share it:

28 comments

Add a comment

my dad was diagnosed last year he has mixed dementia vascular dementia and Alzhimers me and my sister 2yrs ago noticed it, has declined so much and it is heart breaking. I sometimes have to go out the room to cry it is devastating and there is nothing I can do apart from watch. I never had a good relationship with my Dad, now he has Dementia we have a father Daughter relationship and I will always treasure the memories I have with him now. I am losing my dad to this horrible disgusting cruel disease it has no mercy. I don't want to loose my dad this way

This is helpful
0

How very beautiful and sadly I can identify with each sad sentence.... beautifully written.... your grandmother is proud I’m sure.... this is for all grandmothers grandfathers mothers fathers sons daughters nieces nephews cousins dear friends who have piece by piece been taken by this dreadful disease

This is helpful
12

Man that's beautifully written. But very painful for me to read.

This is helpful
9

Wonderful writing which resonates with me and probably everyone who has had a close one suffer from this disease.
So impressed with this piece. Love to him and his family.

This is helpful
14

would I be able to print out this lovely story for our Clinic's Dementia notice board Thanks

This is helpful
12

A wonderfully written essay, piece by piece

This is helpful
14

I have memory problems, so forgive me if I have already told you what I think about Dementia. A person with dementia is not "out of it" as I have so often heard said. He or she has lifetime feelings, emotions and memories, but the condition of dementia disables the ability to clearly recall and express past and present feelings and memories. I describe it like threads of string or wire getting broken or lost on the way out of their memory records. I so saddly recall the struggle my Stepmother who suffered from dementia had in verbally expressing her fondness for me.

This is helpful
13

Thank you A'yaan, for sharing such a moving and poignant piece of writing. I'm certain that your story will resonate in the heart of anyone who has encountered this cruel disease in their own life, as it did mine. I know that you will keep loving and cherishing your dear grandma and treasure the many beautiful memories she made for you and your wider family during happier times. May God continue to bless you and keep you strong!

This is helpful
10

What a moving piece of writing. The memory thief has attacked my dad and sadly now my mum.

This is helpful
12

I've been visiting my wife in her Care Home for well over a year now and have got to 'know' some of the other inmates. The slow destruction of minds is awful to witness. I applaud the Carers whose patience and gentleness is sometimes very touching. Humanity needs to be kind to people who suffer.

This is helpful
13

What a thoughtful and powerful poem which vividly reflect the way dementia destroys someone you love.

This is helpful
14

Very poignant but extremely powerful and moving description of what Dementia does to people

This is helpful
12

A heart breaking story beautifully told

This is helpful
10

In what way can I help this sad illness I am a calligrapher and would like to do a peice of calligraphy for the Alzheimer’s would that help to raise more awareness of this illness

This is helpful
14

Thanks for sharing your sad and touching story

This is helpful
12
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.