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Common App Essay - My experience with grandma's Alzheimer's

Yahia 1 / 1  
Dec 29, 2020   #1
This is my first (and near-final due to the approaching deadlines) draft of my common app essay. Please let me know what you think, and give me your insights and tips to improve this essay. And please help me choose the right prompt for this essay

common app essay

Every Eid, I would awaken to the chants coming from the Mosque and to the pungent but aromatic scent of Usban emanating from the kitchen. There she1 was in her signature kaftan delicately suturing tripe pieces filled with a mixture of rice and lamb, all the while our cat was weaving through her legs, anticipating -much like me- a delectable meal. Which2 we would then sit down to enjoy over the (often embarrassing) stories she would recount with vivid details.

In 2015, the atmosphere this time around struck a different chord. Our beloved grandmother was still present with us, but there was an underlying stench, a stench caused by a ravenous monster she had fallen prey to: Alzheimer's. This was the first Eid since her diagnosis, and it was noticeably different. My grandmother was nestled in bed with her ever-present cats, still telling family stories, although they were stories of a different nature: she would often tell us of her marriage as if it happened yesterday.

At first, it felt like a tragedy. It was hard watching someone I love wither away before my eyes and I felt powerless, unable to help her combat this ailment. This mentor whose voice would give me the strength I needed whenever I was in a swimming competition, whose cakes would give me the affection I needed on my birthdays, was stripped of her precious memories. But as time elapsed and the neurofibrillary tangles accumulated in her brain, I noticed that our roles were reversed: no longer was I the needy child, and she the loving caring adult, it had become the other way around. In fact, during 9th grade, seeing as my parents were at work most of the day, I had to take on the responsibility of being her caretaker: I regularly combed her disheveled hair, I had learned to cook Couscous which was her favorite dish, and I even had to lock away potentially dangerous items - not unlike what she did when I was a kid. It was the least I could do to return the love and care she had always given me. But it was not enough, her condition was deteriorating. So, I scoured the internet looking for ways to reverse this. To my dismay, I found that this disease has neither a cure nor a clear treatment and my options regarding brain games were severely limited by my grandmother's illiteracy. I couldn't let that dishearten me so I took the initiative and I taught myself the piano and learned to play her favorite melodies that survived the onslaught of Alzheimer's. As her communication problems mounted up, music provided a way to connect with her and alleviate her pain... But not much else, unfortunately. Nothing could have saved her from the grim clutch of her disease.

Looking back on it, I realize that it was this event that marked my transition from childhood to adulthood. While I was taking care of her, she brought out in me the attributes that I possess today. The experience was both rewarding and challenging, and it helped me mature as an individual and take on the most daunting of responsibilities: soon after her passing, her fondness for all things feline passed on to me as I had the pleasure of raising twelve cats {abandoned by their mothers}.

Ultimately, as I recount my story through flashbacks, (a simple gratification my grandmother could no longer enjoy) it doesn't sit right with me that these seniors - who have given so much to society - don't get to live their final years with health and happiness. That's where I will always strive to make a difference. By taking a gap year, I have been able to fully commit myself to making an impact in my community: since joining the Red Crescent Movement, I have given back to the elderly in these challenging times, by visiting retirement homes and playing for them.

My grandmother always used to say: "Science is an ocean. Never say you know.". Inspired by her words I will always continue to look for ways to help combat this disease in the hopes of giving our seniors a more suitable ending.

Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,124 3267  
Dec 30, 2020   #2
In an adjusted format, this essay could be used to refer to prompt number 5 or prompt number 7. I believe it would be better suited as an open topic essay with a prompt created by you personally as the referenced situation is not an event or accomplishment, not a realization of the instant kind as it took place over several months. So the open topic essay would be a better fit for it.

To make the presentation more effective, you can remove the reference to the gap year, Red Crescent Movement, but retain the reference to giving back to the elderly. Do not use the quote from your grandmother. This is one time when you do not need the words of others to strengthen the representation of your story.
OP Yahia 1 / 1  
Dec 30, 2020   #3
Thanks for the suggestions, I will try to implement them in my final draft. Otherwise, I'd appreciate it if you could comment on how interesting you thought the essay was and how you would rate it.

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