Aliya Saunders, 9 years old, guest post: “This is about my ouma and oupa and me”
Since Doña Quixote has had me locked up in dementia jail for many days during the past weeks, I did not have the wherewithal to do any writing. Fortunately, my granddaughter Aliya stood in for me by writing and illustrating this post. Aliya is 9, a great student, a voracious reader, a bodily-activity fanatic able to do cartwheels with a no-ground-touching cast on her foot, an artist, and a fashionista. Here is her post:
Ouma and Oupa come to see me shoot goals at my soccer game
Sometimes I play goalie I love gymnastics
I love painting and drawing. I draw most of the time that I am not playing outside with my friends, doing chores, doing homework, or paying attention in my class at school.
I made a sculpture for Reflections at school. In the middle is my ouma’s brain. I made long strings like spaghetti and twisted them on a ball of clay to make my ouma’s brain. My oupa’s hands are on the sides to protect Ouma. For Oupa’s hands,I bent my own hands and pressed the clay on top of them. Then I peeled it off and made it smooth. I wrote on the wooden board My Oupa helps my Ouma because she has dementia.
My whole family helps to take care of my Ouma when she gets tired from her dementia. Back row, left to right: My aunt Marissa, Ouma and Oupa, my dad Newton and my mom Cheryl, and my uncle Adam, Marissa’s husband. Front row, my cousin Dante and me. My brother Kanye is on the other side.
I made this portrait of Ouma when I was eight. She is happy. She loves jewelry and I do too.
September 8, 2019 @ 9:05 pm
What a beautiful tribute to your ouma and oupa. I think you may become a writer like ouma.
September 9, 2019 @ 2:36 pm
Dear Peggy, Thanks so much for writing. I will pass your lovely comment on to Aliya. I’m thrilled about your encouragement for Aliya to become a writer–while she loves writing and reads voraciously, drawing at the moment is her favorite activity. I you and yours all of the vey best.
September 8, 2019 @ 10:23 pm
Such a remarkable update from a very talented artist! Thank you so much Aliya.
September 9, 2019 @ 2:33 pm
How lovely that you wrote, Jane.Thanks for your lovely message. I will pass it on to Aliya__she will be thrilled! All the best to you and yours.
September 9, 2019 @ 3:00 am
Thank you so very much Aliya for the lovely drawings and the sculpture of your Ouma’s brain and Oupa’s helping hands. It really touched my heart that you are so loving and caring. Your Ouma is very lucky to have such a sweet granddaughter and such a supportive family.
With lots of love
PS Tell your Ouma and Oupa they must really try very hard to come and visit me when I am in London. I’ll then be able to send you a little African present.
September 9, 2019 @ 9:41 am
What a precious post – what a precious granddaughter! xoxoxo
September 15, 2019 @ 8:30 am
it was such an honor to meet you at Shaunda’s beautiful wedding in your paradise of a back yard! Thanks so much for your words about my granddaughter and her post. I am so privileged to meet you and your amazing husband–my heart goes out to you both as your live in love despite his serious illness. I’ll be thinking with you and sending my best wishes and prayers your way. Much, much love. Gerda
September 9, 2019 @ 2:32 pm
My dearest Ria,
Thanks so much for your lovely note, perfectly geared to Aliya. I am going to have her over to read all the comments. YOurs is so special, with the focus on her love and caring. I will let Aliya read your note about London–your magnet of a African present will make her tell us everyday to go! We’re still figuring out if the trip will be possible. Have to coordinate with you about dates!
September 9, 2019 @ 4:30 am
Hi Aliya, I love your blog, you’re a great story teller just like your Ouma! The dementia sculpture is so clever, it really illustrates the precious way your Oupa cares for Ouma. I hope that you continue with your writing and art – very special! Lots of love from Victoria, Cape Town South Africa 🙂 xx
September 9, 2019 @ 8:56 am
Dear Victoria, so nice to get a message from you–I don’t remember us communicating before, so welcome. Thanks for your thoughtful note to Aliya. I’m going to have her over to go through the comments her post got–she will be so thrilled to see your appreciation of her sculpture and other art. Please be in touch again and tell me something about yourself!
September 9, 2019 @ 6:53 am
What a wonderful grandchild you are Aliya and so talented.
September 9, 2019 @ 8:53 am
Liewe Rene, Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Aliya will be so happy to hear that you like her art.
September 9, 2019 @ 7:50 am
Aliya, I love your art! It is beautiful and expressive and helped tell the wonderful story of your loving family. I especially love the sculpture of Ouma’s brain and Oupa’s hands, and the way you created it. Also your portrait of Ouma that you did when you were eight years old is quite incredible! Your art and your words shine through with the love you share with Ouma, Oupa and all your family. Well done!
September 9, 2019 @ 8:52 am
Dearest Mary, I am going to have Aliya over to go through the messages with me. I’ll show her your art, but I can’t remember your website address. Would you please email it to me? Thanks for your lovely comment, so beautifully personalized for a 9-year old. Love you–and counting the days to our visit!
September 9, 2019 @ 2:08 pm
Aliya, your art and words say it all, particularly your sculpture. I don’t think an adult could have done better. I don’t know your Oupa but he must be very special because your Ouma chose him. Please spend as much time with them as you can because they are very wise and can pass that knowledge on you.
September 15, 2019 @ 8:27 am
Dear Diana, so fabulous to hear from you. Aliya will love your comments! YOur advice to Aliya is really what all of us should be doing–spend time with the people we love and be fully with them each moment. I often think of you–how fleetingly we knew each other but how special you are to me! LOts of love to you and yours.
September 9, 2019 @ 3:18 pm
Your Aliya has a beautiful soul, I absolutely love her blog. She has a talent for writing just luke her Ouma❤?
September 15, 2019 @ 8:24 am
Thanks for your lovely comment, Kathy. I will let Aliya read your response–she will love it! I just had a nice “visit” with you on Facebook. Your family is so beautiful–because you and Bruce just glow with love!
September 10, 2019 @ 8:02 am
Wow well done Aliya!!
September 15, 2019 @ 8:19 am
My dearest Joan, how lovely to hear from you. I just had a lovely “visit” with you on Facebook–how beautiful your family is! And “little” Michael is such a big boy now–how loving and gorgeous he looks. THanks for your lovely comment. xoxoxox
September 10, 2019 @ 6:06 pm
Gerda, I greatly enjoyed Aliya’s post. I’ve been a lurker, reading your blog since before the book was published but not commented before. I loved her drawings and the sculpture -I hadn’t thought of it like that before, but the image of hands supporting the brain is so powerful. Thanks for having her write a guest post, and all your wonderful blog posts as well. Cheers –Ellen
September 15, 2019 @ 8:12 am
HOw happyI am to have a “lurker” like you, Ellen! So glad that you are in touch. Thanks so much for your kind comments about my blog and enjoyment of Aliya’s post. I will have her read your comment–she will love your observation of her sculpture! All the best to you and yours!
September 13, 2019 @ 7:28 pm
Well Aiiyah is going to give you a run-for-the-money as an award winning blogger Gerda! I can’t believe how darling and loving her post is. Aliyah, you are an up and coming talent, that’s for certain. Love to all of you from Shen
September 15, 2019 @ 8:08 am
Aliya is going to love your prescient comment, my dearest Shen. She–and the rest of us–are so lucky to have you as our Fairy Godmother. LOve to all of YOU, my sister-wife friend!
September 30, 2019 @ 11:03 pm
Your sculpture is a brilliant example of what dementia is & the relationship between caregiver and their loved one.
Thank you for sharing your brilliance. Your ouma, oupa and parents must be very proud of you.
October 20, 2019 @ 9:33 pm
Thanks so much for your kind and loving note to Aliya. I will have her look at it with me when she comes over again. I myself was astounded by Aliya’s sculpture. I have seen her talent for drawing much more often than sculpture. This is the first one she made in a medium that would last and not be smushed after a while so she could re-use the non-hardening clay! Thanks for your interest and wonderful words. My warmest wishes go out to you.
October 6, 2019 @ 7:56 pm
Gerda and Aliya,
What a treasure it is for you both to share the love you have for each other with us. What a sweet testimony to the power of compassion, family, and our very own voices. I am a school teacher and am most impressed with Aliya’s versatile and creative use of multiple art mediums and words to give tribute to her Ouma and Oupa. I am in awe of the sculpture-it brought tears to my eyes. I am a fan, Gerda, as your words speak to my fearful heart. My eighty-five year old father cares for my mom, who has dementia. I pray for lovely you, Gerda, for your lovely family, and for all the lovely souls that have suffered due to dementia. Kimberley
October 20, 2019 @ 3:53 pm
Gerda and Aliya,
I am a school teacher who has a dear mother suffering from dementia. I love reading your blog.
I wanted to thank you both for sharing Aliyah’s artwork and words. We all feel privileged to behold the caring circle that surrounds your family. Aliyah’s words and art show the power of love, compassion, and our voices. I am amazed at her versatile use of so many artistic mediums. May she continue to be blessed and to bless others on her beautiful journey as a reader, thinker, learner, writer, and artist.
Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, your wisdom, and your talents with us too, Gerda. I hope and pray for peace and comfort for all of you and your family, lovely Gerda, and all the others tormented by dementia.
Hozho, Kimberley Carlson
October 20, 2019 @ 9:29 pm
Dear Kimberley. Thanks so much for you warm and wonderful notes. I will have Aliya read your comments. YOu write so beautiful in writing something to be shared by a nine-year old: your wishes for her are so thoughtful, inspiring, and appropriate for her age and understanding. I don’t know what grade you teach, but your students are lucky to have you as mentor and role model.
So sorry to hear about your mother’s dementia. She is so fortunate that she has a caring husband to care for her–but it must be so hard for him. Of course they have you as a daughter and–I hope–other family who help. I cannot say enough about the love of caregivers, giving their later years to a task so physically and emotionally draining. I am grateful for Peter and my family every day. As my capacity to do things for myself declines, my heart cramps as I see that more and more of Peter’s time is taken by my repeat questions, help with dressing, and just in general being my supports structure.
I wish you and yours the very best as you walk this daunting path with your mother. Thanks for your kindness and being in touch. My warmest wishes go out to you.