From the Silver Pen of Tina LeTran

 

This week, we are honored to present the four winning essays recognized in Senior Living Communities’ Silver Pen writing competition.  The competition was open to high school seniors in Vero Beach, Fla., Melbourne, Fla., Spartanburg, S.C., and Carmel, Ind.  This year, we received over 100 entries and were thrilled with the amount of interest high school students showed in the aging process and in the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, specifically.  They were asked to write on the following topic:

“Nearly 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s which is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.  Contrary to scientific evidence, many caregivers with loved ones who are diagnosed with the disease believe that some memories never go away completely – they just emerge spontaneously and less often as the disease progresses.  Do you believe memories are a function of our physical bodies or do you believe that memories live on even if we cannot recall them?”

Each day this week, we will post the winning essay with a brief bio and picture of our winner. To learn more about the second, third and fourth place winners and read their essays, visit the Silver Pen website at http://silverpen-slc.com.

Today, we feature Tina LeTran from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Tina is a senior at Spartanburg High School and will be attending College of Charleston in the fall.  She plans to major in Communication.

 

Tina’s essay is as follows:

A memory begins with a function of the physical body. It is made with a glance of the eye, a touch of the hand, a perk of the ears, a step of the foot. Be it the sound of a song, a perfect view, or a day of adventure, memory begins with the senses, and the body functions to what follows. However, one does not realize that a memory has been created until he remembers the moment later in time, and the image of the memory comes to mind, stimulating the senses and triggering emotions. While memories begin as physical creations of time, they become something of emotional, spiritual, and everlasting value that live on even if they cannot be recalled.

A memory can be compared to love. The two concepts are related, as people typically have memories of things they love. A memory is also like love in that it is an obsession – a recurring idea or thought that preoccupies the mind. A memory can bring back the same feelings as that of a long-time love or a long-lost love – those feelings of happiness, comfort, security, longing, and sometimes loss. As with love, the cliche expression “it takes two” can also ring true for memories, because they can be created by two people (or more), or can be shared from one person to another. Also like love, a memory can find a home in not only the brain, but within the heart, because as people age, memories become something that they grow to love and treasure, much like a spouse or partner.

One way that memories can continue for those with Alzheimer’s is through others. Even if one person forgets a memory, another person might remember, and as memories are shared to others, those others, too, will remember even if only in the moment. For example, a grandson will remember the story of how his grandparents met and fell in love, even if one grandparent has dementia and may forget. Memories, when told, often have special meanings that make them distinctive and hard to forget. When sharing a memory, people often light up in expression or reveal inner emotions, and describing a memory becomes a personal moment for the sharer. The vulnerability, sensitivity, and happiness that a memory can bring then becomes memorable for the person who is being told of it, because humans have the capability of empathy and the listener may have experienced the same emotions before, thus being able to relate to the memory. A memory can become an unforgettable story, even for those who remember it only in the moment.

While Alzheimer’s results in the gradual debilitating of memory and thinking skills, memories have the ability to stay. A memory can be what keeps a person suffering from Alzheimer’s alive and well – if a person can recall a memory, even if only spontaneously, less often, or just partially, it can show that a person’s body has not yet given up. A person suffering from Alzheimer’s will get worse over time, and along with forgetfulness and a gradual loss of memory entirely, his behavior may change as a result. He may lose interest in things previously enjoyed, or his personality may change. The changes in a person with Alzheimer’s can be hard for loved ones around him, and he himself may have difficulty coping. However, if he can recollect any part of his memory, it can provide even a little bit of hope and reassurance that is greatly needed in times such as slowly losing a loved one to dementia. If a person with Alzheimer’s remembers a memory, it may come as a surprise to himself and those around him, and like a placebo effect he may continue fighting the disease because of his belief that he has not forgotten everything entirely.

A memory will be forever the same, even if someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can no longer remember it. Memories, while they begin as functions of the physical body, develop into precious pieces of the past of what matters to people. They become treasures, like an old, childhood toy that is played with over and over, but that people with Alzheimer’s must eventually put back up on the shelf, out of sight. A memory is made to be remembered time after time, and even if one cannot remember it any longer, it does not change its significance or value. Memories, like love, have the power to stand unchanged despite the circumstances of those holding them, because memories can find homes in the hearts and minds of many people.

 

 

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