Updated: Oct 26, 2021
My mom was always an avid crafter, and when she got diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at age 54 she decided to crochet to keep her brain as healthy and active as possible. She spent hours making Granny squares, which we'd find scattered all over the house. The was our normal until she eventually lost her ability, not only to crochet, but also to understand the point of the yarn and the needles. Eventually, we tucked her supplies away, along with her squares.
Years later, while searching for something unrelated, I stumbled upon the Tupperware where we stashed these materials.
It was the first time that I looked at all of these pieces together since she had made them, and even though this was such a central part of my early memories of my mom being sick, I almost forgot about that chapter of the disease entirely after so many years.
I sat there, looking at each square, examining the jumbled stitching, and found myself instinctively arranging them in the order from best to worst. Once I was finished, I surveyed the results: I had always explained to people that losing someone you love to Alzheimer's is like watching them unravel, but nothing really captured the impact of that like the image that came together before me.
After bawling my eyes out, I snapped the picture.
I first posted the picture on my personal Facebook page, and after some encouragement, I posted it to Reddit about a year later.
Within a few hours, the post went viral, first overseas and then, a few weeks later, in the United States. It was a strange and exhilarating time, and despite being overwhelmed by it all, I was grateful for the opportunity to keep one of the promises I made to myself when my mom first got sick: that as long as I am alive, she will never, ever be forgotten. While not everyone who saw the image might know her by her name, they certainly felt the impact of her existence.
Today, in partnership with NetGems, I am auctioning the NFT, or non-fungible token, of this image in the hopes of raising money for her continued care at home (now 16 years in), and for others who know the heartache of this disease firsthand.
The majority of the money raised from this auction will go to my father to assist with the never-ending costs associated with my mom's care (and hopefully something gratuitous and completely unpractical for himself, because frankly, he deserves it).
The other 20% will be donated to Alzheimer's charities focused on research for a cure and immediate caregiver support and respite.
The auction is live until November 13th, which coincides not only with #AlzheimerAwarenessMonth and National Family Caregivers Month but also with my participation in the Delaware Valley Chapter Alzheimer's Association's Walk to End Alzheimer's.
I get that NFTs aren't everyone's bag (hell, I'm still grappling to understand what they are), so if this isn't your bag, I understand. But if you might be willing to spread the word by sharing the link to my auction, I would be forever grateful.