(The following personal essay won a silver medal in the 2021 national Scholastic Writing Competition).
By Rafferty Hill
St. Ann’s (Wilmington) Seventh Grader
Do you ever just forget something? Something just slips from your mind? Then an hour later you remember it and begin to kick yourself for forgetting. What would you do if you knew you would never remember it again? I know I would become severely depressed. Some people just have to live with that, and two of those people are my grandparents. Alzheimer’s and Dementia cause memory loss. Ripping away good memories and making you forget you just asked the same question two minutes ago. Yet, my grandmother is always happy. She fills the room with joy and giggles. A smile can be seen on her face. If you think about it, it can be blissful. It can make you oblivious to the world but it hurts, too. Not just for me when my grandpa asks if I have ever been there before, it hurts my grandpa, too. He always seems a little sad. The happiest he is, though, is when my mom and I are there. Each day my aunt walks around the corner and takes care of them. She goes at ten in the morning and leaves at seven in the eve. My family loves each other so much, and no sickness could ever take that away.
I am a very forgetful person and when I forget things they always come back to me. I can not imagine having to live without my precious memories. I would not be able to wake up every morning knowing someone else would have to remind me what I did the day before. Papa, my grandfather, suffers from depression because of his illness. He sleeps extremely late and barely eats. There are some things that bring joy to his face though. When my mom and I visit he starts waking up early and loves to hang out with us. When he asks if I’ve ever been there before, I know he is not trying to hurt me. I tell him I have been here a few times. I don’t ever think he’ll forget me. It is still a possibility though. I know he will always love me; that is all that matters.
Geema, my grandmother, brightens up the room. She asks me silly questions and makes mischievous jokes. She is always happy despite her condition. A light in the world is the only way to describe her. The sad thing is that Alzheimer’s can twist memories or make people think dreams actually happened. It can bring forth the bad memories and make you forget the good times. My grandmother did not have the best relationship with her mother. They forgave each other but the tension was still there. My grandmother forgets this; she remembers more bad times than good. Though my mom and aunt remind her of this, it doesn’t stick. Besides that Geema always has a positive attitude. Her smile is infectious and her giggle is, too. Though she forgets much, she doesn’t care. It doesn’t affect her attitude toward life. Happiness can be fleeting for those who constantly feel sorry for themselves. Everyone should be like my grandmother.
The sun is low in the sky as my aunt walks home from my grandparent’s house. From ten to seven she and her coffee mug can be seen in the living room. Geema loves to do crossword puzzles; so everyday they do them as they drink their coffee. She cleans for them, gets food for them, and keeps them happy. She barely takes any time for herself. She only gets a break when we come up to visit. Aunt Julie is a warrior. Taking care of my grandparents is what fills her days. It takes a lot of strength and patience to do that. She is a very strong woman.
Memories, the good and the bad, make up who we are. Experiences, the sad and the joyful, change us. Never wish to forget something; there are some people that must. Smile, even when you feel overwhelmed and stressed. A forced smile will start to become real over time. Take care of yourself, even when people count on you. Taking care of you is the best thing you can do. Live like Geema, love like Papa, and be strong like Aunt Julie. Cherish your memories. Remember and even if you don’t; you are still loved.
(Rafferty Hill is a seventh-grade student at St. Ann School in Wilmington).