My friends, invest in memories. Someday, they may be all you have left. I write to you with tears streaming down my face, blurring the words wrung from an aching loss.
One month and eighteen days ago, my grandfather died.
He battled dementia for nearly ten years, so I lost him slowly.
Two and a half years ago, I moved in to become one of his caretakers.
The compassionate, intelligent, artistic man was withering to merely a shell of all he had been.
Then he was simply....gone.
I learned what it means to have only memories.
A few days after he died, my brother and I opened a dusty shoe box stuffed with old prints.
We were searching for memories. For the man before he lost his stories in the jumble of a confused and frustrated brain.
There, in the worn black and white scraps of time, we found him.
Young and laughing before his wedding.
Hitchhiking down to see his college girlfriend, who would become our grandmother.
Riding a donkey through Santorini with a group of his French students.
In his classroom with a clear mind and strong body.
We dug out more albums and boxes, littering the table with moments, with joy.
I am weary and my heart aches, but it is time to pick up my camera again and tell your stories.
Because life is surprisingly short.
Because I am compelled to give the priceless gift of memory that I have been given.
When he had forgotten my name and how to use a fork,
my grandfather would still look at the faded photograph on his night stand and say,
"That's my Mama."
His treasured sliver of eternity.
This is the reason I will keep capturing moments, so that you can leave your children and grandchildren a dusty shoebox.
"With most men, scarce a link of memory holds yesterday and today together." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson