The Importance of Family
By: Michelle Remold
I have been mulling this post over in my mind for about a month and I believe it has finally come together. It actually kept ringing through my head, so I finally decided to sit down and write it. My grandmother, who had dementia, passed away in January and that is when this blog post started piecing itself together.
At some point last year I made a promise to myself that I was going to spend more time with my family and relatives. I don’t mean just going to family functions, but really being present in the moment and making an effort to be with them, even if that meant detaching from my phone, emails, and social media. This promise to myself especially applied to my relatives in Iowa.
Last fall I made my first five hour trip to Iowa. I wanted to spend time with my family and truly enjoy it. I don’t know about you, but at that point I couldn’t remember the last time I went an extended period without my phone or social media. During that trip I logged out of my email accounts, didn’t check Facebook, and didn’t text or call anyone while there. It was wonderful! It was the most relaxed I had been in a long time. I quickly decided that I would be making another trip down in the spring. That trip happened this past weekend
It once again was a wonderful trip and I detached myself from my phone once again and was able to enjoy the visit. The trip was filled with reminiscing and laughter, but this trip had a slightly different tone as well. As I said, my grandma passed away in January and it is her sister (my great-aunt) and her family that I have been visiting in Iowa. It really hit me when my grandma passed away, that it was even more important for me to make the effort to visit Iowa more, as this is my grandma’s only living sibling. Coincidently enough, I had this trip planned for what happened to be shortly after my grandma’s passing. It was great to spend the weekend with family, to look at old pictures, and to share stories of my grandma when she was younger; after all, stories are a way to keep memories alive.
When I think back, I believe I promised myself that I would make an effort to spend more time with family after hearing the song, “Was That my Life?” by Jo Dee Messina. The chorus of the goes like this, “We just get one ride around the sun, in this dream of time. It goes so fast that one day we look back, and we ask: was that my life?” When I heard this song I immediately asked myself, what I would want to remember one day when I looked back at my life. Family has always been a big part of my life and I knew that one day I would want to remember the time spent with them. My family has always been my biggest support system and the people I could bounce ideas off of. I have written previously about my grandfather being the driving force behind why I chose a career in gerontology and why I have a passion for Alzheimer’s. Family truly does have a large impact on my life.
What I have learned is that family is important. You may not always like each other or get along, but when all the chips are down, family is there for you. I learned the importance of family when my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was seven and this point happened to be reiterated to me after my grandma passed away.
Alzheimer’s and dementia have had a way of teaching me lessons during my life and for those lessons, I am thankful. After all, if I just get one ride around the sun, I want to make the most of it, create as many memories as possible, and most importantly, spend it with some of the people I love the most.
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 Social Work with an emphasis in Aging from Minnesota State University Mankato.