This I Believe: The Promise of Memory
I was five when the rain of realization came down and stung my face. I remember sipping orange juice, even though I did not like it very much. I remember a bare room, apart from a nurse, some furniture, and the members of my family. We were there to visit my Great-Aunt Margaret, a petite woman with a thick Scottish accent. Because I was so young, I do not recall the specific details of my visit at this nursing home in Alloa, Scotland. At the time, though, Aunt Margaret could not remember anything. She had Alzheimer’s.
This memory-degenerative disease has taken a hold of my family tree. My great-grandmother lived to be 102, but her brain also succumbed to Alzheimer’s. The malady carried her along the same harrowed path that her daughter Margaret unwillingly followed. An article was published in a Scottish newspaper to celebrate a century of Great-Gran Jack’s life, but Alzheimer’s had taken such a devastating toll on her that she was not even aware of her momentous feat. Furthermore, her kin at the nursing home birthday party were strangers in her eyes. During my trip to Scotland six years earlier, my brother and I were not allowed to meet our great-grandmother because of the disease’s affect on her.
There is a great chance that other family members or I will become the next victims of Alzheimer’s because of its tendency to genetically attack descendents of an ailing person. Knowing this fact is purely heart-breaking, especially since there currently is no known cure. Merely forgetting a sentence that I am to speak or the name of a peer is frightening because these simple afflictions serve as ominous reminders of what my relatives endured on a more destructive level.
I believe in the power of memory. The flashes of our past doings and experiences enhance our personas and also define who we are as human beings. I remember sharing sixteen birthdays with my incredible twin brother, eating Chicken McNuggets with my grandparents, and my first day of kindergarten. I also recall playing my clarinet under stadium lights with fellow members of the Penn Manor Marching Unit, writing and illustrating my first story at age four, and getting my ears pierced without my parents’ knowledge as my grandmother stood by and as my brother dashed out of the store away from my screams. Without these memories to hold on to, I would be lost in thought.
I also believe in the valuable knowledge accrued by intelligent researchers and scientists. These men and women have heroically garnered medical gains as they are continuously on the hunt for the key to unlock all sinister secrets of Alzheimer’s and other memory-degenerative diseases, such as dementia. I know that a cure will be discovered, thanks to the diligence of these researchers and scientists. Then, our prized memories will not sink into the mire of oblivion. We will be free to dream without fear, for without memory, dreams become lost.
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