This week’s installment of our Alzheimer’s Ambassador Series comes from Allison Crook. Allison reminds us that some of the most important lessons in life come out of the smallest conversations.
I have always been drawn to the greatest generation. Beginning as a young child visiting relatives in nursing homes, I have loved hearing the stories and wisdom from my elders.
As I began my career helping those with dementia communicate, I learned to listen and I took their words to heart. It was then that I realized their stories needed to be preserved, so I wrote it all down. I had questions. I asked my patients about their lives, thoughts and feelings. No matter the diagnosis or background, it became clear that family and faith were cherished above all else, and they were more than happy to tell me about it.
Their once glazed over eyes would light up as stories of children, spouses, careers and travels spilled out from deep within their memory. They seemed as grateful to relive these moments as I was eager to glean the meaning of life and wisdom from them.
I found that as different as their lives may have been, their answers had much in common; answers that were filled with wisdom, as well as humor.
Here are some of their answers:
What’s the most important thing in life?
Doing for others; Being happy; Children; Family; Being alive; Happiness; Love; Health; Tolerance; Believing in yourself; Abiding the law.
What are you the most thankful for?
God; Family; Children; Faith; Education; Parents; That my parents let me choose my own wife.
If you could do anything right now, what would it be?
Walking around; Go back to work; What I’m doing right now; Sitting here with you; Fishing; Be with my family; Home with my wife; This place is nice.
Do you have any advice for younger people?
I don’t give advice to people I don’t know well; Take advantage of all your opportunities; Be careful; Marry and have children; Get along with people; Be happy with what you have; Spend time with your family; You gotta learn it on your own; Don’t be afraid of change; Don’t look back- always move forward; Never trust anyone over 30
It has been a while since I last looked through these stories, but each time I do, I find a new message. I can recall each and every face that spent the time answering those questions and it brings back such wonderful memories. I hope they all know how much I learned from them and how much their words are still with me. Now, I try to do my part to keep their memories alive.