HFC's annual storytelling and photography contest, Humans of Dementia, invites young people to share their personal stories of loss, fear, resilience, and hope in the face of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. High school and college students submit photos or essays, with winning submissions posted across HFC’s channels to drive awareness and inspire change. Congratulations to our 2022 winners!

Humans of Dementia

College Essay Winners

Morgan Suchin

It is seven in the morning. Bright, white lights glare into my eyes as I endure a five-hour blood test to diagnose my short stature. When no nurses or doctors can puncture my six-year-old body’s tiny veins, my dad, a vein specialist, asks if he can try. He successfully puts the needle in through non-traditional measures, opting for a vein in my foot. Then, he carries me outside in a blanket and holds me in the sunshine to warm my body so that the procedure can continue. This pivotal moment was the first time I saw my dad in action as a doctor and my earliest memory of him as a healer. My dad cared for me and soothed my fears, not only as a trained doctor but also as a gentle and loving father.


My dad has motivated me to become a doctor because of the meticulous ways his brain worked to find solutions to the most challenging cases and his compassion for his patients. I idolize my father and want to pursue medicine to offer the same dedicated treatment to my future patients.


While I aspire to be a doctor someday and heal people as my dad did, I never imagined I would have to step into the role of “healer” so soon in life.


Three years ago, right before I left for my first year of college, my dad seemed different. My dad, who managed his diabetes on his own for over three decades, suddenly lost the ability to regulate his blood sugars. As a result, he could no longer execute everyday tasks like dosing insulin, eating properly, and taking glucose tablets. Frustrated and confused, he constantly checked his blood sugars and came to me with the same questions. I remember interventions with my siblings where we would ask my dad why he was screaming, crying, and hitting his head. However, he had no recollection of his behavior.


Once COVID-19 began, I moved home from college and realized my dad had only gotten worse. My mom was overwhelmed that my dad was not only losing his memory but also his ability to articulate what was wrong with him to his doctors. At this moment, my family, especially my mom, did not know how to help. So I pushed her to assert herself to his doctors, get an official, accurate diagnosis for my dad’s behavior, and reach out to a psychiatrist to obtain some guidance.


On August 18th, 2021, I received a phone call I will never forget. My father was officially diagnosed with Behavioral Frontotemporal Lobe Dementia at fifty-four. I fell to the floor and wailed for hours, alone in my college bedroom, tears streaming down my face. I was relieved to know I was right in advocating for my dad to get an official diagnosis. However, I was scared that the image of my father was changing. He was no longer my strong healer, but instead, someone who now needed to be healed.


My father’s diagnosis is terminal. Daily tasks such as making food or driving a car cause him great trouble and perplexity.
Instead of my dad wrapping me in a blanket during my blood test, I find myself helping him get dressed. Instead of my dad driving me to the hospital, I drive him to appointments. My mother and three younger brothers also aid in supporting him.


As I watch his disease progress, I see that his short-term memory is limited. However, I hold onto the fact that his long-term memory is still intact. My father shares stories about his time in medical school, but he cannot remember what I said five minutes ago. Even though my dad’s memory is fading, his passion for medicine has not. While he is not equipped to practice medicine anymore, the way he can still vividly describe his undying devotion to healing makes me want to continue his legacy.


While this is not the life I expected for my family, my dad’s diagnosis and ongoing treatment have taught me an incredible lesson about advocating for a loved one when they cannot articulate their needs. I am pursuing medicine because my dad’s story emphasized to me that every patient deserves to have agency in healthcare. Moving forward, I will be my father’s healer as I care for him in his new journey in life as he previously did for me.

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1st Place

Morgan Suchin

Charlottesville, VA

Jessica Nunez

Who was Maria Arteaga before the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s? Maria Arteaga is our rock, our family’s foundation. The matriarch of 5 children and 14 grandchildren. Maria was born and raised on a small ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico, and transitioned her life to the United States after marrying her husband, Mauro Arteaga. Maria was widowed in 1986 and dedicated her life to making sure her family had better and more opportunities than she had growing up. This dedication and sacrifice continued when Maria’s children had children and offered to be her grandchildren’s caretaker. Maria is my grandmother; or who I refer to as “Mom” because she was just far too fashionable and young to be referred to as “abuela” (grandmother). I grew up living across the street from Mom and spent my entire childhood with her. Summer camp was Mom’s house. After school childcare was Mom’s house. Dinner Monday-Friday was, and continues to be, at Mom’s house. Mom is the woman who raised me and instilled the values and qualities I exhibit today. My favorite memories, that I hold dear to my heart, are of summers with Mom. I distinctly remember bright summer mornings, 7 a.m. crossing the street with my sisters, eagerly awaiting the arrival of our cousins. Pancakes and milk for breakfast, waiting in line to get our hair braided, filling our day with adventures at the thrift store and local library. Once we returned, Mom would immediately start preparing dinner for 14 people because her favorite part of the day was providing dinner for her children and grandchildren. The tradition of family dinners at Mom's continues despite her diagnosis, the difference now is that we are the ones that prepare and serve. I, her grandchild at the age of 25, am now attending to any and all needs that Mom may need. Mom’s primary care team consists of 7 women— her 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren, including myself. Every single day we women rotate time blocks throughout the day to be with Mom and conduct activities such as painting, listening to iconic Mexican artists, watching telenovelas, reading books in Spanish, and going on walks in our neighborhood. Personally, my favorite thing to do with Mom during my shift is going through her multiple closets and admiring her collection of jewelry and clothes curated from thrift stores. Mom’s style is like no other, so unique and bold. I certainly am the grandchild that is notorious for “borrowing” her clothes and adding them to my personal closet. For instance, her 90’s L.L. Bean baby-blue coat with brown corduroy cuffs and collar. I mean rightfully so! I can't begin to explain the sentiment that Mom's clothing holds, it's the one part of her that remains the same despite her diagnosis. Her clothing links her to a time when she was still herself and I treasure those memories endlessly. The magic of her clothing is the revival of memories. Although her past may be forgotten to her, a piece of her is still linked to her clothing. Of the 4 years I have been Mom's caretaker, I can say without a doubt that her memory is the sharpest when it comes to her clothing and jewelry. I will step inside Mom’s house wearing a piece of clothing that I found tucked in the back of her closet for YEARS and before greeting me with a usual warm embrace and kiss on the cheek, Mom will sarcastically ask me, “Oh and where did you get that shirt/jacket?” She gives me a look, insinuating she knows exactly where that specific piece of clothing was picked from and who it belongs to.

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2nd Place

Jessica Nunez

Duarte, CA

Brie Winnega

I need to get better at telling stories. A few years ago, a phone call with her could have lasted an hour. She would have filled any silences with questions about my career, what I’m teaching, how many students. I would have asked her about what it was like when she was still a math teacher, still protesting Vietnam, still a kid in the upper peninsula of Michigan. She would have told me about how, when she watched me as a baby, I would not stop crying until I was back in my mom’s arms.


“How are you doing?” I ask.
“How are you doing? Oh, I’m okay, too. You know, I live in this house, and go out and do a few things, and come back and clean everything up.” She giggles after each of her responses. Her laugh is contagious: it stutters, and I can picture her on the other end of the phone, shoulders shaking up and down. I wonder whether she laughs because she is happy or uncomfortable.
“What sort of things are you going out to do these days?”
“Oh,” she pauses for a moment, “You ask such difficult questions...” Still laughing.
“That’s okay. Grandpa said you two are going to church in a few minutes?”
This seems to bring her onto steadier ground. Yes, we’re going to church, she confirms, we don’t like waking up early on Sundays anymore. “What’s happening in your world?”


I need to become the storyteller, I remind myself. But what stories do I have?
On days when I become frustrated, I think about what it means that she doesn’t tell stories anymore. I think about a question I read once: Do you have to have a story in order to be a person? This question locates a problem—that, often in our culture, having an identity requires having a story.


In reality, while memory lives most noticeably in our minds, it exists somewhere outside of ourselves, too. She doesn’t matter only because I remember her stories. She matters simply because she was here—and is here even now. She matters because she likes having the cylinder pillow behind her neck, and because she suddenly enjoys little bags of puffy Cheetos.


And yet, I can feel myself succumb to that cultural impulse, thinking up old stories. I tell them as a way to reintroduce myself to her. I avoid stories we once shared.


I avoid asking about her adage, “You don’t have to be hungry to eat a ham sandwich.” (Did you make this up, Grams? Where does it come from, this sentence that seems to only exist in family lore? A sentence said so often it becomes like muscle memory.) The phrase smells like mildew, an old house nestled under towering pine trees that one of my uncles almost burned down on the Fourth of July. He didn’t account for the fact that fireworks shot off need someplace to go. It smells like mildew, and the lake, and a soapy kitchen. Like when you have old plates and silverware but no dishwasher, and a picnic table in the dining room which is also a sun porch, and a horrible plastic tablecloth with squiggles of yellows and reds all punctuated by illustrations of fruit.


The phrase represents the things Grams offered us. Ham sandwiches and board games on a hideous picnic table, and too many daddy long leg spiders that she ushered back outside for us, and cookies made of playdough that turned into Keebler’s fudge striped cookies when we weren’t looking. Crossword puzzles, fishing poles, a bunkhouse detached from the main house where she was the only adult allowed—or, perhaps, willing—to spend the night with us. The phrase is an offer, not necessarily of what we wanted, but of what she had to give.


She is so many things: The life of a family Christmas party, often the only reason our family agrees to get together; A wallflower at my cousin’s wedding, with so many strangers giving her hugs because they’d once known each other; A woman full of stories, who says weird shit about ham sandwiches; A woman who doesn’t say much at all.
“I’ll talk to you soon,” I say, as I do at the end of every call. I hope that it’s true.

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2nd Place

Brie Winnega

Austin, TX

Arianna Garcia

Who are we, if not for our memories? What happens when the memories are gone, but the life remains?


In my family, there are two people who don’t remember much about my grandpa’s life: himself, and me.


My grandpa has been left with fragments of a life once familiar: the touch of a loved one, pictures scattered throughout a room, the distant notes of a song, and a symphony of hopeful voices. These voices belong to people with years’ worth of stories to share, inside jokes to relay, and personal anecdotes of a life lived by his side.


Tragically, everything I know about my grandpa has been another person’s memory that I’ve had to adopt as my own. I mainly remember him from pixellated home videos and various verbal accounts. As I child, I clung to these stories, collecting them as if they were iridescent pieces of sea glass susceptible to being swept away by the tide.


In one of these sparkling memories, brought to life by a grainy video, I am about four years old. I am sitting on his lap, awash in the warm, candlelit glow of a restaurant. A white frosted birthday cake is brought out on the table before us. He is wearing a cherry-colored sweater. My eyes go wide at the sight of the flame. I erupt into a fit of giggles, causing him to let out a chuckle. I feel safe and happy and loved. He lets me blow out the candle.


And then the scene goes dark.
Last year, I silently observed my grandpa through the shimmering, sad window of a board and care facility, the distance between us made more pronounced by the pandemic. I took note of his hands, their wrinkles telling the stories that his voice could no longer produce. He stared straight through me as if I were a stranger. Thedeep, hearty ghost of his laugh echoed in my brain. It pained me, but, still, I stayed.


There is a rather poignant lyric in one of my favorite songs that goes: “Love is watching someone die.” I never quite grasped the meaning of it until I got to experience it for myself, as I have had to witness my grandpa die a slow death of sorts over the past thirteen years.


I believe that storytelling is an act of love, and that by sharing my grandpa’s, I am keeping his legacy alive. Everyone is barreling towards their own exodus; to love someone is to be there through both the joy and the sorrow that are hallmarks of the human experience and that make one’s life story worth telling.


Francisco Espinoza’s story is one of struggle and strength. When he was only nine months old, he lost his father in a tragic accident. Determined to help his mother support his five siblings, he took on as many jobs as he could at the tender age of six: shining shoes, working in a movie theater, and even cleaning up after elephants at the circus in Mexico. Desperate and destitute, his mother was forced to place him in an orphanage where he was routinely abused.
At the age of 17, Francisco made the risky journey to America, but lasted only a single day picking fruit in hellish conditions in Central California. Although he didn’t understand a word of English, he understood that this was not the life he wanted. As he put it: “If I worked in the fields, I knew I would die in the fields.” He traveled South with little money, taking a job as a busboy at a Downtown L.A. restaurant and eventually working his way up from bartender to manager of The Grill on the Alley in Beverly Hills. “Frankie,” as he was affectionately called, effortlessly navigated the same waters as Hollywood’s elite; celebrities constantly showered him with praise during his 24 years there. My grandpa went on to create a beautiful life, marrying his high school sweetheart and fathering three daughters who graduated college and went on to obtain advanced degrees.


It is difficult to paint a picture of such a remarkable person in only 750 words, but my hope is that I was able to provide a few brushstrokes. My grandpa’s legacy lives on through me, now. I may not remember much about him, but I can still hear his warm baritone voice exclaiming: “We’ve had a good life!” And while he may not realize it, that is more true than he will ever know.

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3rd Place

Arianna Garcia

Los Angeles, CA

College Photo Winners

Sarah Zamudio
The Sunday Afternoon Walk Ritual

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1st Place

Sarah Zamudio

Newhall, CA

Kennedy Frias

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2nd Place

Kennedy Frias

Wichita, KS

Joanna George

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3rd Place

Joanna George

Tulsa, OK

High School Essay Winners

Marie Abboud

My grandfather loved to cook.
Every time my family visited his house, the routine was the same. My grandparents, my Teta and Jido, would beam with joy. It made me feel so special, that I could make them that happy just by being there. They would marvel at how much me and siblings grew, tell us how happy they were to see us, and then offer us food.


“Are you hungry?”
“Come to the kitchen habibti, I made kibbeh, come eat some.” “I’ll make you man'oushe for breakfast, would you like that?”


My grandfather wasn’t the most talkative person, unlike my grandmother, who wanted to know everything about school and sports and who my friends were. It didn’t really matter though; I still felt loved every time he placed a plate of food in front of me. I preferred his peaceful silence to the loud, endless chatter of most of my family members anyway, and because of this we got along well.


We’d eat breakfast together in the mornings, him listening and smiling as I chattered endlessly about what I was going to do that day. He had a talent for making me feel like whatever I had to say was interesting, like I couldn’t annoy him with my constant talking.


He didn’t talk about his life before he came to the US. I didn’t know that he had 7 siblings, 6 of whom still lived in Lebanon. I didn’t know that his mother couldn’t read or write, or that he lived in Lebanon by himself, working as an accountant, while his wife and children lived in a one-room apartment in Syria. All of these things I learned later, from my father, after the Alzheimer’s had taken hold. Things are different now. He’ll start talking, telling me about his
beloved peach trees that are blossoming in his garden. He complains about the deer that feast on the peaches until there’s nothing left for him to harvest. He wants to build a fence around the garden, one that is high enough to keep the wretched creatures out and protect his fruits. He’s planning on planting more tomatoes, enough tomatoes so that he won’t have to buy any from the store anymore.


Sometimes, when there’s a pause in the conversation, he looks at me kindly, but without recognition.
“What’s your name?” He asks.
“Marie”, I say. I always answer casually, like it's no big deal that he forgot. I don’t want him to feel bad.
“Ah, such a beautiful name! I have a sister named Marie.”
I smile at this. I was named after Jido’s sister Marie - she was my dad’s favorite aunt.
“I know Jido. Are you hungry? Let’s make some food.”


Mealtimes are a little different too. Instead of sitting at the table, waiting for a steaming plate of food to be placed in front of me, I help my dad cook in the kitchen while my grandfather sits patiently at the table. We work clumsily, and the results of our culinary efforts are never quite as good as the food Jido used to make. It’s worth it though, because once the food is ready, we all sit together and eat, just like we used to when I was little.
Sometimes, during the conversations we have during these meals, Jido shocks me by recounting some past memory in such vivid detail it's almost like it happened yesterday.


“Remember when you were little, Issa?” He addresses my father. “You and your cousin would jump on my bed, even after I told you not to. When the bed broke, you hid it from me by using bricks to hold the bed up!” He chuckles. “Even then, you were clever enough to keep yourself out of trouble.”


Whenever he tells stories like these, little fragments of memories that give a glimpse of the life he lived, I feel like I’m sitting with the grandfather I grew up with, the one that carried me on his shoulders when we went apple picking and made my favorite foods every time I came to visit.


Something has been lost. Or rather, it's been taken, snatched away by Alzheimer’s. Jido doesn’t remember a lot of things. He’s not the independent, strong-willed person he used to be. That doesn’t matter though. He’s still my grandfather. He still loves cooking and eating good food, wandering in his garden examining his peach trees, and spending time with his grandkids.
Nothing, even Alzheimer's, can take these things away.

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1st Place

Marie Abboud

Arlington, VA

Gillian Walsch

His gait was shuffled. His eyes were vacant. He was wearing three mismatched shirts on a hot summer day in Houston. He is my grandfather who suffered from Lewy Body Dementia. This man was layered, like the shirts that he wore. Each layer represented the experiences, relationships, and emotions that culminated into a man that has left an indelible mark on my heart.


Born to first-generation parents, my grandpa was surrounded by a close, tight-knit New York Italian family. His mother worked in a curtain factory and his father was a construction worker. One of his favorite tales to tell was how his father had to resort to making coffins during the depression, as the housing market was in shambles. He knew where he was rooted and he bloomed as a result. Named “Class Clown” in his high school yearbook, my grandfather kept the same best friend for the remainder of his life. He made the bold move to attend college at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana on an ROTC scholarship. It would be his only trip outside the New York area and his first plane ride! The war in Vietnam was no match for him either, as he faced it with bravery, although admittedly he was frightened. Several years after his return from war, he would share the emotional details of having to tell a mother that her son had died in combat. My grandfather carried that memory in his heart and it never left him despite the dreaded Lewy Body cells invading his pristine mind.


He married the love of his life. He would often say that she was the best thing that ever happened to him. After thirty years of marriage, he suffered perhaps the most tragic time in his life. He lost his wife after a brief illness. He was devastated. Another man would have crumbled at facing the future alone. Not him. He fought through grief and continued to make himself a vibrant part of our family. That dedication to his family never waned, even when dementia was trying to take hold.


His Sunday mornings began with attending church and watching his grandchildren sing “Glory to God'' in the choir. After church, he treated us to breakfast at Denny’s - ordering the All-American Slam. Although he enjoyed the food at Sunday morning breakfasts, he mainly cherished the time he spent with his family around the table. He was proud of his family, showing up to elementary school shows, little league games, and all high school graduations. He joyfully made his highly-requested chicken cutlets recipe for our family dinners. It was a bonus if a grandchild or two helped. It involved a lot of sticky breadcrumbs and egg yolk stuck on our fingers, but we didn’t care because it was a memory that we were so lucky to be making. As his motor planning skills deteriorated, we would gently redirect him and he was proud that we had observed him so carefully. He always made sure to have Chips Ahoy and Sunny D stored in his pantry, because he knew that my sisters and I would come over to get his wise advice and special treats.


The man with the layered shirts was complex, yet simple. He loved big and feared little. He battled Lewy Body Dementia with the same grit and grace that guided him through life. At the end of his life, his words might have been absent and his outfits disorganized, but he was still so genuine about his love for life. He taught me by example, that through difficult times when it seems as if the sun will never shine, you will always have your family to take care of you, pray with you, cook with you, laugh with you, cry with you, grieve with you, and most importantly, love you.

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2nd Place

Gillian Walsch

Katy, TX

Caroline Pangilinan

The memory care unit was a stark contrast from the setting where I usually saw Grandma. Dull, colorless, it didn’t reflect the Grandma I once knew at all. Grandma’s house used to be a carnival of colors, from her lively-colored depression glass to grand Christmases of old. Yet, life is never static. We saw Grandma sitting in the hallway.
“Hi, Mom, look who’s here!” My mother said cheerfully. Since we traveled many hours, I was quite happy to see Grandma.
“Hi, Grandma!” I say, but am met with a blank stare.


“Who are you?” She responds, and I can tell she is searching her memory to no avail. It felt like I had just tumbled into a movie scene, a cliché, generalized portrayal of dementia. It didn’t feel real. However, it was real, and one truth became even more certain - I would never know the Grandma I once knew.


On my dining room table lies a candy dish of my grandmother’s. It has an inviting, rich blue color, like the crashing waves on an island in the Pacific. Looking into the dish transports me back to memories of my grandmother–to photos of her traveling across pristine seas, trips in her and Grandpa’s 1992 Camaro. The color reminds me of Grandma’s eyes–miniscule oceans of their own, and some of the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. I’m disappointed to find the candy dish empty inside–something that never would have happened at Grandma’s house.


Grandma loved holidays, especially Christmas. She cooked our Christmas dinners, bought presents for all her grandchildren, and even sewed a handmade stocking for every family member in our big celebration. She ensured the candy dish was always stocked, too. The Christmas tree, though, sticks out to me the most. Themarvelous pine, decorated in traditional fifties style, was a partygoer straight out of The Great Gatsby. The ornaments were so shiny and dazzling you could see not only your eyes but also a sparkle of joy reflected within them.


My grandmother was raised very traditionally in rural Illinois. An avid reader, she could always be found with a book in hand. However, her free time had been minimal. Those were traditional times when women were told their place was in the home, subservient to their husbands. Yet, at age forty-two, and with six children, she completed her college education to become an elementary school teacher. She was the cornerstone of the family. She kept learning in her retirement too, as she had a big bookshelf of historical novels that was always growing.


I admire many things about my Grandma, but I admire her passion for learning and independence most. They shaped who I am today. Without Grandma’s musings about books she had just read (her favorite topic being FDR) or support for my school achievements, I never would have realized my own passion for writing. Her fierce independence was evident in the fact that she had traveled the world, the finale being a solo trip to Antarctica! She had an adventurous spark, and was not afraid to explore. I hope to someday channel my own spark, and not listen to people who may discourage me from taking on such things. I know she would be my biggest supporter. Life with my grandparents has certainly changed from the grand memories of my childhood. While still wonderful, Christmases became different year by year. As dementia took more from my Grandma, our roles in my grandparents’ lives grew, until the responsibility was too great. We sold the house and now my grandparents live in an assisted living facility. That is why her prized candy dish lives in our house now.


I can no longer have a conversation with Grandma. She has also long forgotten who I am. Dementia is a cruel disease, slowly robbing people, regardless of their achievements or status, of the special memories they held so dear. However, when we’re lucky, we see glimmers of Grandma, glimmers of the brave, driven woman who inspires me to this day. A CNA told me that when Grandma gets upset, he will give her “papers” to grade to calm her nerves. My grandpa tells me that sometimes she uses her old sayings such as “I’m all set” when they are walking in her unit together.


My grandma is still there. The brave arctic traveler, the stereotype demolisher, the encouraging mentor. Grandma’s memories may have been lost to the high tides of dementia, but her eyes, those azure oceans, are still bright.

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2nd Place

Caroline Pangilinan

Saline, MI

Grace Lambert

Trusting in God
We have one month left until my cousin’s wedding. He’s the second oldest of the three of us. He is eight years older than me, which means he was gifted a few more wonderful years with our grandmother than I was. We would spend day after day feeding the birds, eating home cooked meals, and watching our grandmother be one of the sweetest ladies in our town. Levi’s wedding is one month away, and part of his childhood won’t be there because of her life-changing dementia. In my head, I know that “Momma Jo” should be running around town finding her perfect wedding dress and bragging about how grown her only grandson is. She should be offering her input on the flowers that will be placed on the tables. Nevertheless, as Levi watches his bride walk down the aisle, our grandmother will be sitting in her chair not knowing her grandbaby is starting a new life.


I was three years old, walking down the hallways of my mother’s clinic. I would travel from door to door trying to find the perfect place to color. As I made my way down the hallway to the final door, I knew that the kindest, most gentle face would be waiting for me on the other side, my grandmother. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the clinic would almost fall to pieces without her being manager. Luckily for me, she made time between her busy schedule to lay blankets and pillows down next to her. She would laugh and play games. I remember her smile, her warming smile that reminded me of the cups of coffee she would fill with sugar for me. I miss her smile.


Now instead of being greeted at the door with a smell of cornbread and coffee brewing, I’m greeted with an empty kitchen. As I walk through the house I find the caretaker in the rocking chair. When I see my grandmother it’s not the same woman that was running a business a couple of years ago. She walks past me as if we didn’t spend every weekend together. I’m selfish, catching myself thinking, “I just want my grandmother back.” Who am I to say that this new woman in front of me isn’t the same person? It’s the same body, but the eyes are different. I can no longer see the emotions she used to display. The powerful woman that controlled the town for years with her gorgeous looks and charming personality, disappeared in front of our eyes. Why was our loved one taken away from us without actually leaving? Why haven’t I thought about how she feels?


Laying in her bed, wide awake wondering why she’s not moving. Staring at her chirping alarm clock, having to endure it until someone comes to help. The most powerful woman we know, changing almost overnight. Every day is something new that she has to persevere to try and perform her daily routine. Then she smiles and I’m reminded that she didn’t change almost at all. She’s the same grandmother that loves us. Instead now she watches us live from a distance and tries her best to understand our conversations. She’s powerful in the sense that she continues her days trying to be as independent as possible. Her spirit never changed.


I write these small parts of our lives mostly for myself. My grandmother was diagnosed officially in February 2019 and I have still yet to come to terms with the changes. We lost both her husband and her mother in late 2020. While we were all mourning, Momma Jo experienced a rapid decline in her mental health. We discovered very quickly that we couldn’t let her out of our sight for very long. I was worried for my mom and uncle the most, witnessing them watch their own mother change. When asking my family members how they feel about our situation most responded with the words depressing, stressful and unfair. Every day she awakens to read her Bible and complete her devotion. Through her hard times she has never lost her faith or her happiness and that reminded me of God’s plan. It almost makes me wonder if He had this happen so she could easily undergo the future losses. I know that if she trusts God as much as she does, that we should too. Then one day we will be together again, catching her up on some of the memories she missed.

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3rd Place

Grace Lambert

Booneville, MS

High School Photo Winners

Gavin German
Lying in the Field After Flying Kites

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1st Place

Gavin German

Laurel, MT

Franka Sparks
A painting of Izzy at age 25 with Izzy in present day. Since her dementia diagnosis, she has been working to tell anyone who will listen about her life before she forgets herself.

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2nd Place

Franka Sparks

Alberta, Canada

Chloe Lu
My grandma having fun on a walk at a local beach. Taking walks and enjoying nature are some of her favorite activities.

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3rd Place

Chloe Lu

Carlsbad, CA

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