A woman at the center of a family tree showing her elders and other family members looks up smiling slightly but also looking a little sad.

"Did He Just Say 'Ant Food'?" & Other Quirks Worth Remembering

I recently received a text from my oldest cousin, Michael. He reported to my mom, Jean, my sister, Christine, and I that he had told his wife that if she were to get any brownie crumbs on the couch, she would be ant food.

It’s a bizarre, off-the-wall thing to say to someone — that is unless you grew up with Poppop. Cleanliness and orderliness were two things that were very important to him, perhaps instilled during his time in the service, and as a leader of seven children and more than a dozen grandchildren, you have to run a tight ship to achieve both of those things. This includes veiled, serious, but fun threats to those children who may get crumbs on the couch! He had a million and one of these simple things to say, which he shared with us! And often I wonder, what else did he pass down?

Traits inherited from my grandparents

My brother, Joey, and sister, Cheyenne, have beautiful blue eyes, courtesy of our Poppop; I and my cousin, Bridget, possess an uncanny resemblance to our Grandmom in our resting facial expressions (sometimes looking not so kind). As my generation has started to have babies, I wonder what, of our grandparent’s traits, will be visible in them. Will Leona have blue eyes, too? Will Connor develop into a man who likes things a certain, tidy way? Will Liam become a world-class brawler?

These beautiful things that make you, you, often didn’t originate with you. We’re a product of our environment and our genetics. Our love of ice cream may be an inherited trait, but the fact that my cousins and I tend to consume it in times of discomfort and that some of us prefer the deliciousness of Breyer’s ice cream over everything else, those are learned behaviors.

What fuels me to fundraise for Alzheimer's non-profits

My Poppop was definitely a worrywart. It made him a pretty natural fit as a safety advisor at a big area company. This, however, to worry that my loved ones will endure Alzheimer’s — again — well that’s a horse of a different color. It is because it’s real. It is because my Poppop’s sister now lives with Alzheimer’s, because his parents exhibited signs of dementia, as I’m told. It is because there is something I can do about this.

I use the worry to fuel my passions, enflame my words, and give life to my actions as I aggressively pursue a world without Alzheimer’s by fundraising for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s annually.

These beutiful little quirks

You may be relieved to know that Michael’s wife, Nicole, is not ant food. But she has added to her education of the things that make Michael, Michael. These beautiful little quirks that we wouldn’t give up for the world — they are precious.

Do you have any beautiful little quirks in your family that you would like to share?

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