Tonight, on June 21, 2018, my team is hosting our first-ever benefit concert and cocktail hour for The Longest Day.
Tonight, we are making connections, not only with other people who have experienced the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, but connections to music and my Nana. We are here to help find a cure so that no one ever has to live through what she and I did.
Growing up, my Nana and I were inseparable, from my days as an infant to all of my school functions. Days off from school were spent at the mall shopping for her favorite designer purse brand and eating pizza at the food court – just Nana and me.
All of the other time we spent together was at the piano. As a well-practiced piano teacher, Nana required all of her children and grandchildren to learn the instrument, but I was the only one that shared her same talent and love of the art form. Nana and I had weekly piano lessons, annual recitals and countless competitions and performances that bonded us closer and closer through each stroke of a key. Nana and Nanita.
Then Nana was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
She couldn’t calculate the discount of a purse she wanted to buy. She couldn’t figure out how to swipe a credit card. Worst of all, she couldn’t remember her childhood lullaby on the piano – or how to read music anymore.
Nana slowly started to become an unfamiliar person in a familiar body. I didn’t know how to handle it … or how to help her through it.
That’s when I discovered The Longest Day.
The Longest Day allows me the same opportunity as any other group fundraising event—raising awareness and funds to further research—but with a very personal twist.
My family and friends chose the month of May as the lead-up to The Longest Day and to honor Nana as the matron of our family. Each year #baNANApianorama hosts a piano practice-a-thon event in Miami Lakes, Florida in order to fundraise leading up to June 21. Family, friends, former piano students of Nana’s and guests of the venue gather together to practice piano for the cause; in our first three years, we have raised over $20,000! Little did we know how significant that date would become, as after our first event in 2016, Nana lost her battle to Alzheimer’s on Mother’s Day that year.
Today, The Longest Day, we continue our efforts to remember her.
As our final event for the 2018 fundraising season, former piano students of my Nana are performing some of her favorite pieces in a formal setting while guests enjoy a photo memorial of Nana. I can’t think of a better way to spend this evening.
Although Nana was taken from us way too soon, she is now my guardian angel. She is watching over me and guiding me through every step of life as she always did.
Tonight I offer my music and my support to all those enduring challenging times caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, grappling with the news of the diagnosis, or grieving someone that he or she has recently lost. We all have something in common: our hope, our love and the care we give our loved ones.
We are not alone. Together we can find a cure.
One note at a time.
About Jessica: Jessica Comellas is making beautiful music in honor of the woman she bonded with through music: her Nana. Click here to visit Jessica’s team page.