grandma and I went to visit my grandpa one afternoon. I had been dreading it, leaving it until late in the week because his Alzheimer's has robbed him of his memory and recognition. I realized with shame later that I had been thinking of him more as an issue than as a human being.
When we got there, he was in pretty rough shape, obviously tranquilized and despondent. We took him outside to a garden area, which my mom had wisely recommended after her last visit a few weeks ago, and he perked up considerably. Over the next couple of hours, his level of consciousness varied a lot -- at limes it seemed like a window would open up and he'd be quite animated, much more like the grandpa we remember, but then it would close again and he would stare at the ground with his eyes at half mast for several minutes. He often started speaking, but then stumbled on a word and lost the train of thought. At one point he leaned over to Grandma and said, "I like you".
Uncle John and his wife Ellen dropped in while we were there. He played the harmonica a fair bit, and I had also played a bunch of my viola songs. Grandpa responded well to the music, tapping the beat, singing quietly and giving me a piercing stare as I played. He's got music in his blood, that one. I ended up being very happy to have been with him, to hold his hand and see him respond to Grandma's warmth. It was sad too, of course, but being there helped me see that this is just part of life; a part we don't experience enough, as it's easier to just lock it away.