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Preserving Patient History

By Nora Triepke

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Early on, I had the idea of asking him to preserve his oral history by recording life experiences and advice on video or in audio recordings. If he had felt comfortable, I would also have loved to have him record diaries or write letters to us in the future. However, I lacked the verbal intimacy and courage to do so. I failed to realize that it was not merely a selfish request for me, but doubled as both a project to bring my family together, enabling communication, and as a way for my father to know he would have a continuing presence in my life after his passing.

If we had all had a little more courage, fueled by our love, preserving his oral history would have been a bonding activity for our family, brought peace of mind to my father, left a legacy for future generations and – on a whole – served as therapy for us all.

To have a letter from my father on my wedding day or to be able to show a video to my daughter of her grandfather offering up advice to her on various aspects of life would have meant the world. Not only that, but it would have been a great relief to myself and my father to know that he did not have to simply fade away, feeling powerless to prevent the memories from slipping beyond his grasp.

Have the courage and love to approach any loved one nearing death; let them know that you want their legacy to remain long after they are gone. Take the focus away from the diagnosis and place it on family, love and life; allow them to leave a rich inheritance behind for those who treasured them the most.

 


Nora Triepke, 28, is a high school English teacher in Odessa, Texas. She and her mother, Sandy, lovingly care for her father Darryl Triepke who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2006.

 

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