My Abuelito was the greatest and I want to remember him now and forever. It's hard to envision a world without him because he was my world but I find comfort in knowing that he lived a wonderful, long, beautiful life and was truly loved by my Abuelita, his children, grand children, great grand children and everyone he met.
My Abuelito was the most honest, loyal, present person. He never made my cousins and I feel as though he had a favorite, he loved us all and we never questioned it. In my eyes, when I was 8 years old till now, he truly deserves the Noble Peace Prize, he was a man of honor and intelligence. He was hard working and helped cultivate future generations. He taught me how to drive, gave me tools for my car, stood at the finish line waiting for me to finish a 5k, taught me the basics of first aid, was one of my first dancing partners, but most of all he encouraged me on the soccer field, in my academics and overall pushed me to be better.
When my Abuelito was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, my world stopped, I didn't know a lot about the cause and I dove into learning all I could. I took a year off before enrolling in graduate school to spend more time with him after being away at college for so long. I stopped my world because I didn't know how to move forward. This is truly a heart breaking disease, and it is not easy seeing your favorite person forget who you are.
My Abuelito was not the person I knew with Alzheimer's but at the same time I was given an insight into his world, his childhood, upbringing and what he loved about Quito. He told me stories of his youth and adventures, he shared his life with me. I miss my Abueltio, the one who raised me and the one who had Alzheimer's, I miss all of him.
Grief is not easy, "..Grief is like the ocean, it’s deep and dark and bigger than all of us." Some days are good and some days aren't. I am thankful to have such a supportive, loving family to get through the unthinkable together.
I find peace in knowing that as his grand daughter I was there. I spoke at his funeral in New York and I flew out and spoke at his services in Quito, Ecuador where he was put to rest in his beloved city. I am proud to be a Hidalgo and part of his legacy and because of this I'll never stop fighting for a world without Alzheimer's. Things are different now, but somehow I feel him all around me; I know he’s with me everyday and proud of me. I will always carry him with me.
This team may be Equipo de Cristobal but I fight for not only my Abuelito but for my great tio Cristobal aka "tio banana" and my late great grandma Mami Santo and Veronica Koellener, the late grandmother of my boyfriend.
I reminisce on the good times with Mami Santo and find peace in knowing she is reunited with Papi Facundo looking down on us all. I am fortunate to have known my great grandma and will not stop fighting for this cause so that others will have the opportunity to know their great grandma or great grandpa.
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