Kindness Sustains

''Three things in human life are important,'' said the novelist Henry James. ''The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.'' Share a moment when kindness guided your actions. (250-300 words)

When I was eleven years old, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and very rapidly became a stranger to me. She went from being an encouraging and funny grandmother who couldn’t wait to see me to an anxious and critical woman who didn’t even recognize me. In other words, the disease claimed her spirit, her essence, even though it left her body intact.

My father, her son, was too emotionally distraught to visit her once she was ill. I made a different decision, largely because I felt I should show her the kindness she had shown me. So for the last six years, I have visited her every other day. Some days are good days and she is easy to be around even though she doesn’t recognize me and I can only find glimmers of the woman I knew her to be. Most days she is emotional, agitated and lost. Those are very hard for me, but I still stay and sit with her for a while and go back again in two days time.

Visiting my grandmother has taught me much about myself. I have learned that I am stronger and more resilient than I might of guessed; I find a way even when life is tough. I have also discovered that relationships are sustained through small gestures of kindness. Beyond learning these things about myself, my life's purpose has become clear to me. I want to work in my family's pharmaceutical business because I know that it is work that will serve others and I hope that eventually we could contribute to finding a cure for Alzheimer's.