A Letter to Alzheimer’s

Dianna Jimenez, Staff Writer

During the Alzheimer’s awareness month of June, junior, Andrew Bilodeau, posted his passionate letter to Alzheimer’s disease and received positive recognition not only from peers, receiving an impressive amount of 291 favorites and 195 retweets on Twitter, but also from the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Thank you for sharing this poignant letter,” Alzheimer’s Association tweeted, “and raising awareness for this devastating disease. #ENDALZ”

Bilodeau’s 89-year-old grandmother, Matilda Lopez, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s for five years now. He expressed how this event personally affects him by writing an awe-inspiring letter directly towards the disease. Through this letter and his own experience, Bilodeau’s younger brother, Michael Bilodeau, has learned to focus more on the positives, rather than the negatives, and keep an upbeat disposition.

“He [Andrew Bilodeau] put what I feel into words,” Michael Bilodeau said. “She doesn’t know that I’m her grandson, but I do, and that’s all that matters.”

Throughout the five years that his grandmother has been diagnosed, Bilodeau has learned about patience and different ways to manage the hardships in life. He has no doubt that love plays a significant role in this plight of his. He has also learned to view the positive aspects of the disease’s impact on his grandmother’s memory. Instead of seeing this disease as a loss, as if the person has died, in Bilodeau’s eyes this is fallacious.

“To me my grandma is still alive; she’s still my grandma,” Bilodeau said. “You may lose a part of them, it may be different, but you can still appreciate a relationship with the person.”

On one of his trips to see his grandmother, her caregiver shared an amusing moment that she witnessed overnight between his grandma and her husband. They were both laying down on their bed when Bilodeau’s grandmother suddenly got up and walked to the kitchen. She said “he’s cold, he’s cold,” but instead of reaching for a blanket, she grabbed the table cloth from the kitchen table and walked back to their room. With the table cloth, she decided to cover up her husband from head-to-toe and again repeat, “he’s cold, he’s cold.”

In hopes of spreading awareness about the disease with his letter, Bilodeau also wants to shine a light of hope when people hear the word Alzheimer’s. He wishes for readers to not only become aware of this tragedy, but to also cherish his or her family member who has been affected or is currently affected by Alzheimer’s disease and know they are not alone.

“It’s [Alzheimer’s] not something that should conquer us,” Bilodeau said, “it’s something that needs to have something to be done about it.”

Bilodeau is advocating for the disease by fundraising through his participation every year in A Walk to ENDALZ that is held at the Angel’s Stadium; this year the walk will be on November 14.

To donate money for Alzheimer’s research or to learn more about the disease visit:

Andrew Bilodeau’s letter to Alzheimer’s:

To Alzheimer’s disease:
When I was a kid I remember thinking that you were called “Old Timers,” like the ones that happened every year at Yankee Stadium, the ones where Yogi Berra would come out and everyone would cheer. I knew that you made people forget, but you were one of those distant diseases that happened in places far away from my childhood mind. But when I was 12 I learned that you wanted us to get to know each other. You came into my life and have tried to take my grandma.

In some ways you’ve succeeded. She doesn’t know my name anymore and I’ll never get to hear her tell me stories about my mom when she was a kid, and I’ll never hear her whisper to me to put more brown sugar in my oatmeal while my mom isn’t looking. I’ll never hear her and my grandfather argue about the TV volume, then kiss ten seconds later. I even miss her yelling at me when I’m in trouble.

But for the most part, you have failed. When my grandma loses the place in her mind that teaches her how to eat, I feed her. Spoonful after spoonful. And she looks at me with those hazel eyes and they brighten after every bite she takes, and in that you have given me the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. It reminds me that no disease has ever stopped a person from being human. You’ve made her forget how to have fear, and when she speaks her mind and makes me laugh it brings me closer to her than ever before. You’ve taught me patience and wisdom, and how to be gentle with the world. I’ve grown to be more compassionate and loving to others. Once my grandma told me that I was “a very nice young man,” and, as if it was a knee jerk reaction I told her that she had made me that way. It was only afterwards that I realized how true that really is. In your raging march you’ve given me even more of a reason to think that my mom is the bravest person I’ll ever know, and you’ve brought me closer to my brother. Through you I have learned that God works in mysterious ways.

I’m not saying that you’re a walk in the park, not at all. The fact that my grandma doesn’t remember the chocolates that she used to hide for me in her drawer or that time my brother ran around her house naked or all those times she burnt my toast but I didn’t care and the fact that she doesn’t know that to this day I still love burnt toast? It saddens me. But don’t think that her dying will be just a quiet end to a long era of depression, no I promise you my grandmother will die in a flash, just like everyone without you inside their minds. Don’t think there won’t be shock or mourning because I haven’t had any of those feelings yet. I haven’t needed them because as long as my grandma still has her hazel eyes and still has her soft voice and still has a hand for me to hold, she is my living, breathing and loving grandma, and she will be swept up by God’s Grace alone, not thrown out by the symptoms of a disease.

In this long journey with her I’ve learned to tap into one thing you can’t touch. Love.

Andrew Bilodeau