Thanks for the Memories
By: Michelle Remold
Memories are important to everyone; we all have them. We have memories of past events, holidays, family gatherings, friends, family, school, and more. The memories may not always be happy, but they make us who we are. One of the worst parts of Alzheimer’s and dementia is becoming void of those memories.
I have written about my grandpa and the memories I have of him, however I would be lying if I said that as I got older I didn’t feel robbed of the memories I wouldn’t have with him. He wouldn’t be at graduations, he wouldn’t be able to celebrate birthdays or holidays with us, and he would never be able to teach me some of the things he was great at. I learned though that it wasn’t about the memories we wouldn’t have, but about the ones we would. We colored together, did puzzles, watched Minnesota Twins games, brought him ice cream, danced to music, had a birthday party for him when he turned 90, or just talked to him, even when he couldn’t respond. The truth is I wouldn’t trade these small memories for anything.
I have learned that it’s the little moments that mean the most. Alzheimer’s may have prevented him from remembering and creating new memories, but I didn’t inhibit me from making memories. To this day, every time I smell Winterfresh gum, memories of my grandpa flood back; mostly because he was always sneaking it to us and telling us not to tell grandma. I also remember when I was in second grade, he went through his pictures from World War II and told us the stories about each one, I can recall the stories like it was yesterday.
Alzheimer’s and dementia have taught me that sharing memories is important. I wrote the stories people shared with us while presenting the Memory Program at the University of Northern Iowa. I figured at least that way, some memories stay alive. I will end with this quote by an unknown author: “The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.”
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.