When My Grandmother Said My Name for the First Time in 2 Years


The moment she said my name was a moment when time almost stopped. I felt the clock pause and I felt her eyes on mine, truly looking at me for the first time in two years. My grandmother’s vibrant personality and her love for life itself and humankind has slowly slipped away throughout the past few years, stolen by Alzheimer’s disease.

For years I called and visited, urgently trying to connect with her. I felt the clock ticking forward, and I feared what was to come. I soon realized the only connection I would have with her was through music. And so I continue to play piano, singing songs that take her back to a childhood that did not know of any darkness. During the moments I sing to her, her eyes open wide and stare right at me, like she is seeing a new, older version of me. She then begins to chant the songs with a voice I almost never hear anymore.

My determination to reach the real person inside my grandmother stems from the days when she took my 6-year-old hand and walked me to the Philadelphia orchestra once a month for many years. Those were the days she gave me my passion for music, and these are the days I give music back to her.

The day she said my name was last Thanksgiving. I had my family sing songs with her, like “You Are My Sunshine” and an array of patriotic tunes. I sat down next to her, took her hand into mine and was about to start another song. Her eyes locked with mine, and she said, “Oh Arielle, how are you?” A moment passed, and I smiled in shock while answering her simple question.

That was the first time my grandmother said my name in two years. All the other times we sing and talk, but she mostly nods. I never really knew if she remembered me. But that day, I believe because of the music, she was able to truly see me and say my name.

Although some diseases have unfortunately become a common reality for many families, I think it is important to share stories that are purely good. The darkness this disease brings makes it hard to see the actual person and the beautiful moments still happening right before our eyes.

My grandmother said my name for the first time in two years.

Time stopped, and I realized my music connected her to me for that moment.

And it was a story worth telling.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one unexpected source of comfort when it comes to your (or a loved one’s) disability and/or disease? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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