By Carrie Smith
My grandma was a force. She was a smart, strong, creative woman. She passed away recently from Alzheimer’s after seven years of living with the disease–at least seven years ago is when we first noticed symptoms.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my experience watching her leave us very slowly, and I feel ambivalent about it. On one hand, I feel like I slowly lost her, and she was no longer the woman I always knew. On the other hand, it was still her and Alzheimer’s was just another part of her life.
I am trying to find balance with her memory and when I think of her I think of her in all of her forms: mother, daughter, wife, grandma, adventurer, faithful, learner, speech therapist, advocate, lover of all nature and beauty, woman with Alzheimer’s. It is important to me to think about her whole life.
These photos of her as a younger woman mean a lot to me. I will never forget what the last few years have been like, nor do I want to. But when I see these photos I catch a glimpse of her when she was perfectly healthy and it reminds me to be full of life. They remind me of the full woman that she was, in all her forms – even with Alzheimer’s.
Photos mark the most memorable moments of our lives. Do yours? If you value those precious memories, join Carrie, share a photo of a moment you never want to forget and tag #NeverDelete. For every use of this hashtag, Shutterfly will donate $1 to the Alzheimer’s Association up to $20,000.