A Story About Me and My Poppop
Over the last three years, I've had the privilege of welcoming new souls into our family. It's been the greatest pleasure of my life to be an auntie to two gorgeous nieces and one handsome nephew.
I am so overwhelmed by love for them in these moments where they say "I love you," or some totally off-the-wall sassy thing, or when their little fingers are in my hair as I'm feeding them. I know that these totally ordinary things that make my heart sing may one day be left in the dust of memory with other everyday happenings, but I want my little ones to one day know and feel this outpouring of love I have for them in these moments. So, I have started diaries for each of them.
Being a caretaker of someone's stories
When I've had such a day, I write an entry describing it, what they did, and how it made me feel. It's a beautiful thing that I hope will make them happy one day, God willing, when they're older.
This process has made me think about the responsibilities of being a caretaker of someone's stories. Right now, I am the caretaker of their stories. But one day, they will be the caretaker of mine, just as I am now the caretaker of my Poppop's stories.
I'll remember for you
For me, it's been an honor and a duty to continue to tell my Poppop's story after his passing. In the state house in Pennsylvania, on the roof of the Bok building at a fundraiser in Philadelphia, and regularly on the pages of this website, I evoke his name and our experiences to help to make this world a better place for granddaughters and grandfathers just like us. I count myself lucky to have been given the time to make these memories and duty-bound to share them with the world.
From me to you
Your experiences, no matter how small, are relatable. How many times has your niece given you the biggest hug she can muster and told you she loves you? I hope many times. When you relate it to me, I can feel that experience using the ones that I have had personally. And thereby, we are connected. How many times have you been experiencing an unbelievably hard day of caregiving and ended up crying laughing because your loved one does something out of the blue, like ask you if you are in your right mind acting all crazy walking around their house like that? (For me, it's always the sass.)
My words on this page set off the tape in your head of your own day, filled with the feelings, smell, and voice of your loved one in a similar experience. We are linked through this shared human experience — known by far too many at this point — in Alzheimer's.
Share your story
I've said it once, and I'll say it many more times in this blog: Building community is one of the only things we have in our power at the moment to fight a disease for which there is no cure and limited means to slow the progression.
As the caretakers of our loved one's stories, it's our responsibility to share our experiences with each other. We are not alone. We cannot be silenced. This suffering is happening here and now to many of us, and - at the very least - I'm going to tell you a story about my Poppop and me.
Share a memory in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
Does humor help you cope?