My Grandpa; My Hero
By: Michelle Remold
Growing up, there was no doubt that I was a grandpa’s girl. I was completely enthralled by my grandpa and everything he did. He gave the best back rubs, took us on walks and to feed geese, and was always a good sport about anything we asked him. My grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was about seven. Shortly after this, in second grade, we were asked to write about our hero. My hero was my grandpa.
My grandpa was a World War II veteran and was on Normandy Beach on D-Day. My grandpa was a great painter, a skilled woodworker, liked to go on long car rides, and loved to fish. He would sneak us gum and circus peanuts, even though my grandma would tell him not to. My grandpa rarely called me by my name; he always called me “Marcie.” If you asked me, I’d say I had a special connection with my grandpa.
After he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I wasn’t sure what to think. All I knew was that everyone was upset and that grandpa couldn’t remember stuff anymore. I remember the day I realized something was wrong, he asked me how our cows were. We live in town and have never had cows. My mom bought us a book, We are Very Good Friends my Grandpa and I, to read to him. When I would visit, I would read him the book, color, and do puzzles with him. My nickname of “Marcie” slowly turned to “Mushy,” but the smile he’d give me when I walked in the room was priceless. Even during his last few years, if he heard my voice, he’d smile or try to respond.
I completely contribute my love of working with older adults to my grandpa. He may not have gotten the chance to teach me everything he wanted to, but through the disease he taught me so much more – patience, compassion, love, humor, and more on a level I don’t think I would have reached had he not had Alzheimer’s. I will forever be grateful for the lessons he taught me. I will always hear him laugh and call me “Marcie.” I will always see him through the eyes of a seven-year old and he will always be my grandpa and my hero.
Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.