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mourning grandma is ruining my family

An open letter to my grandma (weird format for this post, but it felt really good to write it this way)....

I understand that losing your husband must be incredibly difficult. It's absolutely horrible and sad. I miss him so much too because he was like a father to me. It will never be the same without him here. But you had 60 beautiful years together, and he left you very well off. Two houses, lots of money in the bank. You have two intelligent children who are willing to do ANYTHING to help you. And grandchildren who adore you. Yet you refuse to eat, take care of yourself, leave the house, and have basically made yourself a complete burden on the family when you are still perfectly healthy and capable of taking care of yourelf. You say hurtful things about how you regret your entire life, wish you never came to America, wish you'd never been born. You accuse your kids of trying to steal your money when they are simply trying to make it easier on you and help you with the bills. You insult us when we try to cook for you or bring you food and you refuse it. You create a rift between your son and daughter by making up crazy accusatory stories and creating drama and pitting one child against the other. We are all out of our minds with stress over you, when we should be mourning the loss of my grandfather.

Our family didn't have to be destroyed when grandpa died...he left us blessed. I hate to say it, but it's YOU who is destroying the family. I can't imagine the pain you must be going through, but please know you are not "robbed" of your life, as you say. You are not "all alone" as you say. It is so incredibly hurtful when you say these things. There are many things to still live for, and people who still love you. I understand you are deeply depressed, but you won't let anyone help you!! I don't want to remember you like this because you have changed from my favorite person on the planet to a bitter, and cold woman who I no longer recognize. I feel like I have lost not one, but two grandparents. :(

[IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]

Re: mourning grandma is ruining my family

  • I am so sorry to hear about this for you & your family. It's never easy to lose someone. 60+ years is an amazing thing & it should be remembered & celebrated more than mourned.

    OP-  Maybe a grief counselor could come in for a small window of time & give you & your family some pointers on how to cope? Maybe discuss with her some of the memories you know would be good ones for her? Have you tried to share any of this with her? If you're afraid of her reaction & think she'd get hostile towards you, write it down (anonymously if you want) & leave it where you know she'd find it.. I would suggest that you end it on a high note, though.

    Best of luck & I hope this helps.

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  • Well said.
    My darling daughter just turned 4 years old.
  • OP, how long ago did your grandfather pass?

    Please let me offer some insight as a widow; when you lose the love of your life, wether married for 3.5 yrs, like myself, or 61 yrs, like my grandparents, it's extremely difficult to deal with.  Whether the death was expected or unexpected.  The life you knew changes completely.  Your outlook on life changes, especially when greiving.  Your personality changes, if anything, for a while. 

    She knows deep, deep, deep down inside that you all love her and are just trying to help her, but her subconcisous sees it differently.  I had people trying to help me out and it only drove me away from them.  And I know that they meant well.  I pulled inward and away.  I wanted to just be alone.  I needed to grieve in my own ways. 

    My grandfather, the only one that I ever knew, died three months after I lost my husband.  Yes, I was widowed before my own grandmother.  And she took it very very hard.  Even though you know one day your mate will pass, you are never, ever going to be prepared.   My Gma wouldn't really eat, take care of herself etc.   She was somewhat paranoid, but that was because I did have a cousin taking adavantage, but there was not much for that biotch to take.  My grandparents were and still are poor. 

    As much as grief counseling would help her, she has to be the one to make the decision to go.  It would be helpful; the group I got involved with at church were mainly 70 and older.   I was the youngest at 42. 

    be patient with her; I understand that you miss your grandfather too, but remember it was her Husband... 

    "Insert Clever and Witty Saying Here"
  • Thank you all for your replies. Sweet Thang, I'm so terribly sorry to hear about your husband and grandfather. I try to put myself in my grandmother's shoes and I can't imagine losing my SO. You're right, it's something you can never prepare for.

     A bit more info on my grandmother, she is Sicilian (which are notorious for their extreme grieving). She does't speak a word of English despite being here for the past 50+ years. She was very co-dependent on my grandfather and feels lost without him. I'm a firm believer in therapy, but I've gently tried to suggest it and she flips. She has no faith in therapy at all, and looks down on it. I thought of calling a priest to talk to her, as this is more along the lines of what she can handle. But even the thought of that sets her off. It feels very hopeless. I guess in time she will get better (hopefully). It's just really tough right now.

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
  • My grandfather passed away in October 2010 by the way.
    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
  • Spend sixty years with a life mate and see how you deal with it?

    Cripes. 

  • image scottydont:

    Spend sixty years with a life mate and see how you deal with it?

    Cripes. 

     

    I agree.  It's only been six months.  People grieve differently, but I can bet that any of us would still be grieving after six months.  She'll come around, but I'd expect it to take more time.

    IUI - BFP! Baby boy born still - August 2012
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    Baby Boy born July 2015

  • Has your grandmother been to a doctor lately?

    Is it possible that she could be in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer's disease?  

    Age related dementia and Alzheimer's can both cause striking personality changes.  It isn't uncommon for one spouse to protect the other during the early stages of dementia so that extended family doesn't notice changes.  Then if if that spouse dies, the family is shocked and in denial about the changes in the mental capacity of the surviving spouse.  Besides speaker with your grandmother's priest I would also strongly recommend that you have her doctor give her a checkup.

  • image scottydont:

    Spend sixty years with a life mate and see how you deal with it?

    Cripes. 

     

    I am not expecting her to be happy, or even be her usual self. It just hurts that she has turned against the rest of her family who is also grieving. We just want to help her get through this. I expect her to be devastated and have never denied her the right to be upset. I just wish we could be there for each other in a constructive way. It's like she thinks she's not allowed to ever have a happy moment again in life. Very sad.

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
  • I'm so sorry for your loss and all the continuing issues. 

    DH's great aunt is like this. TBH, I really can't stand being around her. She has a lot of passive-aggressive comments and a lot of statements that are intended to make everyone feel like sh!t. 

    I vacillate between pity and irritation toward her. I had a lot of sympathy and empathy initially, but I can't muster it up anymore. 

    Hope is not a strategy.
  • image ZestofLime:

    I'm so sorry for your loss and all the continuing issues. 

    DH's great aunt is like this. TBH, I really can't stand being around her. She has a lot of passive-aggressive comments and a lot of statements that are intended to make everyone feel like sh!t. 

    I vacillate between pity and irritation toward her. I had a lot of sympathy and empathy initially, but I can't muster it up anymore. 

     

    This. I'm usually a very patient person, but I fear that I am getting to this point with my grandmother. The things she says are so spiteful and ....well, MEAN!!  Just one small example, is how every time I see her she has to mention that she refuses to come to my wedding (which will be next May probably). I dunno...it seems like enough time to mentally prepare. She actually told me to "just go to city hall and get it over with already". I know she's miserable, but I still deserve to be happy!  And I wish that something big like my wedding, which she used to get so excited about, would make her happy, even if just for a minute. Instead I feel like it just pisses her off when anyone tries to be positive around her. She seriously used to be the sweetest, most loving woman.

    And no, I don't bring up my wedding around her anymore. SHE brings it up just  to tell me she isn't coming. grr.

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
  • She sounds like the old old school type who would be too proud (and too stubborn) to see a grief couselor.

    Is she a spiritual/religious type? If so, her clergyperson would work wonders for her...but you know how it is...she's got to be the one to go for herself.

    Maybe she'd be open to seeing her priest, her rabbi or other clergyperson, whichever one applies.

    it also sounds like she's clinically depressed. Letting the housework go and not leaving the house is the big tip off.

    Your gma needs help --- I hope somebody can give her some type of intervention. Losing a spouse is very difficult and all the more so since your gma was married to your gramps for 60 years. Sorry to hear about your troubles.


    ETA: Towns and houses of worship usually sponsor widow/widower's clubs -- she'd probably find a lot of kindred spirits there. It will also give her the chance to get out and do something. Those groups do a lot socially for her age group.

  • First, call her priest for Christ's Sake.  The fact that you haven't had one to visit yet, saddens me. 

    Second, IT HASN'T EVEN BEEN A YEAR YET - give her some time to pull herself together. 

    1. she has no idea HOW to do most things (ie she doesnt speak the language of the people around her) since her DH took care of them.  Its daunting to have to learn how to take care of yourself.
    2. she is now dependent on people who do not live with her - making her MORE isolated from the world.  She down one of her supports
    3. Add one and two together and put yourself in her shoes.  Someone other than her husband is "helping" her do things, that she doesnt fully understand and may not fully support yet. 
    4. she has just been given a wake up call about her own mortality.  HOW SCARY CAN THAT BE.
    5. she may even had her faith shaken, since death of a loved one tends to do that.
    6. ANY TYPE OF CHANGE causes stress - which affects the body - which affects the emotions. 

    The fact that you expect her to be perfectly agreeable in how she portrays HER grief, is pretty self-centered.  She is nto like you, so she wont grieve like you. 

    If she is still like this in a year, then yes, you can get all indignant.  But give her a chance to ADAPT to her new life.

    PS - my Sicilian Great Grandmother stopped eating the day my Great GrandGrandfather died.  It took her 3 days to die.  At least YOUR Grandmother is trying to live. 

    [IMG]http://i633.photobucket.com/albums/uu52/Iluminespics/IMG_4759.jpg[/IMG]
  • No, you definitely cannot understand the pain your grandma is going through.  She is obviously depressed.  It's only been six months!!!!  And you already sound like you've given up on her...sad
  • Please understand that a piece of this may be her culturally ingrained mourning behavior. Part of this drama is what is expected of a dutiful Italian widow as a matter of respect for her late husband. You aren't going to undo that in 6 months.
  • image sjafri:
    No, you definitely cannot understand the pain your grandma is going through.  She is obviously depressed.  It's only been six months!!!!  And you already sound like you've given up on her...sad

     

    No. I will NEVER give up on my grandmother. EVER. I treat her with the same love and respect that I always have, even though the things that she's been saying to me kill me (and the rest of the family). I'm doing everything I can to try and get her to eat, to stay calm when she flips out, and just BE THERE in any way I can.

    As I said before (maybe you missed this), I don't expect her to be "normal" after this. This has totally changed her life forever. I know she is greiving, as we all are. I only wish there was a way to grieve TOGETHER in a more constructive way. And in a way that honors my grandfather. To support each other instead of tearing into each other. It's a new thing to me to see how a death in the family can make the whole damn house of cards fall down. I thought the opposite would happen, that it would bring us closer and appreciate each other more. 

    We haven't sprung a priest on her yet, though we've brought it up multiple times, and she's refused. But maybe it is indeed time for a house call, as someone suggested. And a dr.'s visit as well.

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
  • image Ilumine:

    First, call her priest for Christ's Sake.  The fact that you haven't had one to visit yet, saddens me. 

    Second, IT HASN'T EVEN BEEN A YEAR YET - give her some time to pull herself together. 

    1. she has no idea HOW to do most things (ie she doesnt speak the language of the people around her) since her DH took care of them.  Its daunting to have to learn how to take care of yourself.
    2. she is now dependent on people who do not live with her - making her MORE isolated from the world.  She down one of her supports
    3. Add one and two together and put yourself in her shoes.  Someone other than her husband is "helping" her do things, that she doesnt fully understand and may not fully support yet. 
    4. she has just been given a wake up call about her own mortality.  HOW SCARY CAN THAT BE.
    5. she may even had her faith shaken, since death of a loved one tends to do that.
    6. ANY TYPE OF CHANGE causes stress - which affects the body - which affects the emotions. 

    The fact that you expect her to be perfectly agreeable in how she portrays HER grief, is pretty self-centered.  She is nto like you, so she wont grieve like you. 

    If she is still like this in a year, then yes, you can get all indignant.  But give her a chance to ADAPT to her new life.

    PS - my Sicilian Great Grandmother stopped eating the day my Great GrandGrandfather died.  It took her 3 days to die.  At least YOUR Grandmother is trying to live. 

    This. Yes, that's what I fear. This culture's way of handling death is so unhealthy! ***, why couldn't I be Irish? lol

     Ilumine, thank you. Everything you just listed makes perfect sense to me. You are so right.  I'm going to give it more time and just pray that she finds a way to adapt. She is blessed that she still has people around her who love her, and i hope that she can recognize that in time.

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
  • image rebecca_s:
    Has your grandmother been to a doctor lately?

    Is it possible that she could be in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer's disease?  

    Age related dementia and Alzheimer's can both cause striking personality changes.  It isn't uncommon for one spouse to protect the other during the early stages of dementia so that extended family doesn't notice changes.  Then if if that spouse dies, the family is shocked and in denial about the changes in the mental capacity of the surviving spouse.  Besides speaker with your grandmother's priest I would also strongly recommend that you have her doctor give her a checkup.

    I was actually going to ask the same thing.  My grandmother is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's.  Grandpa passed away at the end of February, and like your grandparents, they had been together almost 60 years.  Despite fighting his own battle with cancer since last August, grandpa had spent every waking minute taking care of grandma.  While we knew she had Alzheimer's, no one really knew the scope of it until after grandpa passed and my mom and her siblings started taking care of her.

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  • Dear Granddaughter, I'm reaching out for help and I don't know how to, the person who normally would help me through such a thing is gone, and I can't do this on my own. I know now that I will die of a broken heart.
  • image kellslw:
    image rebecca_s:
    Has your grandmother been to a doctor lately?

    Is it possible that she could be in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer's disease?  

    Age related dementia and Alzheimer's can both cause striking personality changes.  It isn't uncommon for one spouse to protect the other during the early stages of dementia so that extended family doesn't notice changes.  Then if if that spouse dies, the family is shocked and in denial about the changes in the mental capacity of the surviving spouse.  Besides speaker with your grandmother's priest I would also strongly recommend that you have her doctor give her a checkup.

    I was actually going to ask the same thing.  My grandmother is in the middle stages of Alzheimer's.  Grandpa passed away at the end of February, and like your grandparents, they had been together almost 60 years.  Despite fighting his own battle with cancer since last August, grandpa had spent every waking minute taking care of grandma.  While we knew she had Alzheimer's, no one really knew the scope of it until after grandpa passed and my mom and her siblings started taking care of her.

     

    Thanks to both of you ladies. I honestly never thought about it because both of my grandparents always seemed very sharp. But it's something I'll inquire about when we get her to a doctor. She doesn't want to do anything these days, not even put on the TV or radio. That can't be good for her mental health at this age. She needs more mental stimulation.

    kellslw, I'm curious, how you all are dealing with your grandmother now? It must be very difficult.  Do you get outside help, like a nurse service, or is it just your mom and siblings who are able to care for your grandmother? Alzheimer's seems so tough...

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
  • image nyc artist:
    Thanks to both of you ladies. I honestly never thought about it because both of my grandparents always seemed very sharp. But it's something I'll inquire about when we get her to a doctor. She doesn't want to do anything these days, not even put on the TV or radio. That can't be good for her mental health at this age. She needs more mental stimulation.

    kellslw, I'm curious, how you all are dealing with your grandmother now? It must be very difficult.  Do you get outside help, like a nurse service, or is it just your mom and siblings who are able to care for your grandmother? Alzheimer's seems so tough...

    I'm really glad it's something you're going to look into.  Even if it turns out that that's not something she's dealing with, it will help give the family some more piece of mind.  And if it is part of what she's dealing with, you know what you're dealing with and help her cope with it better.

    I don't want to make you feel bad, as I know how hard it is to lose your grandfather (as I said, I lost mine recently).  And it may be that your grandfather didn't realize that grandma was in the beginning of Alzheimer's so he didn't know to deal with it.  But for our family, my grandparents had been dealing with it for the last couple years (like I said grandma is now in the middle stage).  When grandpa was alive, he was already starting to look at assisted living places for them, and they even picked one out and put their house on the market for a while.  The assisted living place he picked out has care levels that range all the way up to hospice care, and he knew that once they went in there, grandma would be there for good.  They are one of the best in the nation known for their Alzheimer's care unit, which is why he picked it. 

    When grandpa passed, we all knew grandma would still end up in that home, and she still will.  But, mourning her husband and experiencing such a big life change (moving into a home) at the same time was just not something my mom and her siblings wanted to put her through.  They knew it was too soon when we took her to the home to visit another family member (who is in the same home) and she kept breaking down and saying, "This is where Jack and I were supposed to live.  We were supposed to live here together."  So for now, she is staying with my parents in their home (she's to the point where she can't live by herself now) until the family feels that she is ready or they are unable to still care for her.  They do not have any staff that comes in, but my mom only works 1 day a week (the day my dad has off).  She did stay with her sister (who is healthy) for 2 weeks shortly after grandpa passed (it was her choice), but for the most part my parents take care of her and my mom's siblings help too.

    You're right.  I'm not going to lie, Alzheimer's is tough.  But, the key to it is a good, understanding support system.  I have to remember every time I talk to grandma (DH and I live a ways away) that she doesn't ask me the same question over and over again to be annoying or because she wasn't listening.  She really does care about our lives and want to know what's going on, and that's why she asks again and again, because she can't remember but she cares enough to know.  There are times when we're visiting that I want to get frustrated at things she does or says, but I have to remember, that's not grandma.  My grandmother is one of the most loving, unselfish people you will ever meet, and when she's not like that I have to remember it's not her it's the horrible disease.

    I'm sorry that my answer was long.  I will keep you and your family, and especially your grandma in my T&P.  Please keep us posted when you talk to the doctor.  And I know we don't know eachother, but if you ever need to talk about your grandma (whether or not she has Alzheimer's), you can PM me!

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  • image kellslw:
    image nyc artist:
    Thanks to both of you ladies. I honestly never thought about it because both of my grandparents always seemed very sharp. But it's something I'll inquire about when we get her to a doctor. She doesn't want to do anything these days, not even put on the TV or radio. That can't be good for her mental health at this age. She needs more mental stimulation.

    kellslw, I'm curious, how you all are dealing with your grandmother now? It must be very difficult.  Do you get outside help, like a nurse service, or is it just your mom and siblings who are able to care for your grandmother? Alzheimer's seems so tough...

    I'm really glad it's something you're going to look into.  Even if it turns out that that's not something she's dealing with, it will help give the family some more piece of mind.  And if it is part of what she's dealing with, you know what you're dealing with and help her cope with it better.

    I don't want to make you feel bad, as I know how hard it is to lose your grandfather (as I said, I lost mine recently).  And it may be that your grandfather didn't realize that grandma was in the beginning of Alzheimer's so he didn't know to deal with it.  But for our family, my grandparents had been dealing with it for the last couple years (like I said grandma is now in the middle stage).  When grandpa was alive, he was already starting to look at assisted living places for them, and they even picked one out and put their house on the market for a while.  The assisted living place he picked out has care levels that range all the way up to hospice care, and he knew that once they went in there, grandma would be there for good.  They are one of the best in the nation known for their Alzheimer's care unit, which is why he picked it. 

    When grandpa passed, we all knew grandma would still end up in that home, and she still will.  But, mourning her husband and experiencing such a big life change (moving into a home) at the same time was just not something my mom and her siblings wanted to put her through.  They knew it was too soon when we took her to the home to visit another family member (who is in the same home) and she kept breaking down and saying, "This is where Jack and I were supposed to live.  We were supposed to live here together."  So for now, she is staying with my parents in their home (she's to the point where she can't live by herself now) until the family feels that she is ready or they are unable to still care for her.  They do not have any staff that comes in, but my mom only works 1 day a week (the day my dad has off).  She did stay with her sister (who is healthy) for 2 weeks shortly after grandpa passed (it was her choice), but for the most part my parents take care of her and my mom's siblings help too.

    You're right.  I'm not going to lie, Alzheimer's is tough.  But, the key to it is a good, understanding support system.  I have to remember every time I talk to grandma (DH and I live a ways away) that she doesn't ask me the same question over and over again to be annoying or because she wasn't listening.  She really does care about our lives and want to know what's going on, and that's why she asks again and again, because she can't remember but she cares enough to know.  There are times when we're visiting that I want to get frustrated at things she does or says, but I have to remember, that's not grandma.  My grandmother is one of the most loving, unselfish people you will ever meet, and when she's not like that I have to remember it's not her it's the horrible disease.

    I'm sorry that my answer was long.  I will keep you and your family, and especially your grandma in my T&P.  Please keep us posted when you talk to the doctor.  And I know we don't know eachother, but if you ever need to talk about your grandma (whether or not she has Alzheimer's), you can PM me!

     

    kellslw, I can't thank you enough for your post. It really is both enlightening and somewhat comforting to know that other people are finding ways to deal with a very similar situation. I'm glad to hear that your mom and her siblings can work it out and find a way to share the responsibility, and do the best thing for your grandma.

    I am really glad I posted about this, because all of the comments refueled my patience, and now I feel like I can approach this with extra tenderness. If she does have Alzheimer's, my mom and uncle need to find a way to work together to better help her. Right now there's a bit of a rift, which makes things even more complicated, but we are managing. We will eventually need to move my grandmother to live with my mom, and we are just waiting for her to give the signal that she's ready for the change.

    I miss my grandfather so much, and wish I could just tell him one more time that I appreciate all he did for our family. It's even more clear now that he's gone just how important he was.

    Thank you so much for the T&P, and I will keep you and your family in mine as well. Smile  I'll keep you posted when I find out more about my grandmother's condition.

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
  • sorry to hear this.... hope everything is settle in your family soon

  • image nyc artist:
    kellslw, I can't thank you enough for your post. It really is both enlightening and somewhat comforting to know that other people are finding ways to deal with a very similar situation. I'm glad to hear that your mom and her siblings can work it out and find a way to share the responsibility, and do the best thing for your grandma.

    I am really glad I posted about this, because all of the comments refueled my patience, and now I feel like I can approach this with extra tenderness. If she does have Alzheimer's, my mom and uncle need to find a way to work together to better help her. Right now there's a bit of a rift, which makes things even more complicated, but we are managing. We will eventually need to move my grandmother to live with my mom, and we are just waiting for her to give the signal that she's ready for the change.

    I miss my grandfather so much, and wish I could just tell him one more time that I appreciate all he did for our family. It's even more clear now that he's gone just how important he was.

    Thank you so much for the T&P, and I will keep you and your family in mine as well. Smile  I'll keep you posted when I find out more about my grandmother's condition.

    You're very welcome.  I'm glad I could help encourage you.  You're family (along with help from the doctors) will figure this out.  They will know what the right decision about grandma when the time comes (about treatments, who she'll live with, etc).  I can assure you, your family will find strength they didn't know they had. 

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  • I agree with the posters who said to investigate her mental function among other issues, taking her meds at the right times and the right ones etc.  Also, just be aware that she may NEVER signal that she wants to move.   That house may become something she latches onto because it reminds her of your grandfather and if she hasn't run from the memories yet, she is probably holding onto them tightly.   So, moving her may be tough for that reason, but also, if anything mentally is slipping, moving her will make her mental decline worsen for sure.   (as a PT, I have seen it change a person more than anything else)

    And there is no right way to grieve.   We can't imagine spending a lifetime with someone who leaves you not speaking the language all by yourself in your house.   I don't know that the love that you feel for your children and grandchildren can be seen through the HUGE gaping hole in her heart.  

    Hang in there. 

    Jill * Married to Steven 11/9/03 * DS Samuel 4/4/05* DS #2 Jeffrey 6/13/2009
  • Very fitting, I just saw this article about Alzheimer's on CNN.... if anyone is interested.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/27/seth.rogen.alzheimer/index.html?hpt=C2

    Thanks again everybody. <3

    [IMG]http://i1118.photobucket.com/albums/k613/nycartist/16755_197219638704_518460_n.jpg[/IMG]
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