My Family’s Story of Alzheimer! One Tomato!


My story on my family and Alzheimer.  How my grandfather’s story of one tomato became my guide to living a more beautiful and fulfilling life.


My grandfather’s story of one tomato altered my life in so many ways ~ to get a divorce ~ to not negotiate ~ to live life to the fullest ~ to trust again ~  to remarry (my soulmate) ~ to embrace and love motherhood (and feel the happiness of seeing my baby boy smile everyday) ~ to get back up when I have been knocked down.  One tomato.  One tomato has altered my whole outlook on life.


The story behind one tomato.

My Grandmother on the day I was commissioned!
My Grandmother on the day I was commissioned!

My grandparents dated since they were 14 and 13 years old. They raised each other. They had five beautiful children. They had four boys and one girl.  My parents had four girls and one boy.  When my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my grandfather cared for her full time. Around the clock.  When I was visiting them during my R&R from Iraq in 2005, I was taken back how much my grandfather did for my grandmother. How much he did for love. Everyday, this 80 year old man, did his best to care for her. He loved her. Everyday, he gave her a shower. Everyday, he painted her nails. Everyday, he took her to the market for “one tomato.”  Before I left back to Iraq, my grandfather said to me “if grandma wants to go to the market for the one tomato, as long as I can breathe, I will dress her, paint her nails, and I will drive her to the market to get that one tomato. This one act brings her happiness and I will work until I take my last breath ensuring she is happy. She gave me a family and a beautiful life that she can no longer remember but I do.  I will do everything possible to show her how much she means to me. Although her memory has failed her, I will not. I owe it to her to care for her and give her that “one tomato” every single day until her last breath.”


My grandfather in San Antonio!

As my grandfather told me this story with such pride, I could see in his eyes the pain he was enduring living his final years caring for a women that loved him but also yelled daily at him that he was not the man she married. Her husband was young and handsome and he was old and scary. Everyday, he had to convince her that he was indeed her husband. For my grandfather, this was not the movies.  This was real life for an elderly man living with the woman he loved diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  This is real life for so many elderly couples and families.


My Grandfather!

Life changed for me after my grandfather shared this story.

I have little fear because of “one tomato” which represents so many things in my life. I have little fear because of my husband, my son, my family, and amazing friends.

The next time you are at the market remember my story and fast forward your life. Are you living your life to the fullest? Are you with the person that will remind you how great your life was/is when you could not longer remember? Are you the person that will do this for someone else?”

This, my friends, is my story of my “one tomato”.


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Thank you for visiting us! Big hug from Irene, Steve and Max!

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