My Grandma, Charlotte Barrett, passed away in 2007 after nearly 13 years of living with Alzheimer’s disease. I remember the day when I saw my dad, Miles Barrett, after he had just heard the news about his mother. At the time, I was just a young teenager and didn’t know anything about the disease or what my Grandma’s future held. What I do remember is that I had never in my life seen my Dad so devastated and I feared for what I was about to learn.
Looking back, I don’t remember much about my Grandma before she began living with Alzheimer’s. However, my memories with her are all distinctly filled with fun and laughter. Dancing around to the player piano at their house in Littleton – Laughing at my new favorite movie “Dumb & Dumber” – Skiing the slopes of Breckenridge. She was the type of person who always wore a smile and was loved by everyone who knew her. During her later years, I particularly remember how greatly music would lift her spirits. When she heard a song that triggered her memory, she would light up and sometimes even laugh; much like how I now feel when I hear songs that take me back to the days of dancing around their player piano. The gift of memory is truly something special.
I couldn’t write this without talking about how strong and supportive our family was throughout these years; in particular, about my Grandpa (whom I was named after). Grandpa took care of Grandma as long as he could before getting professional help. Even then, Grandpa visited Grandma for years on a daily basis. Taking her on walks, to the movies or just listening to some of their favorite tunes. His love and support never grew thin. Grandpa partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association for support and was heavily involved with them through the years.
One thing my Grandpa taught me was the importance of giving back. Every year, I make it a priority to start a team and participate in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. It’s a fun way to raise money for the association, and is turning into a tradition of mine. I’ve also helped provide the large banners and signs for the Association’s events through my previous large-format printing job. However, I wanted to do more. I wanted to make a bigger impact and raise more awareness. Finally, the perfect opportunity arose with my new start-up company, JustSayCheese.com.
We started Just Say Cheese based on the simple fact that we all have way too many photos on our phones and never do anything with them. Thousands of memories each year get loaded onto hard drives and rarely visited again. The marketplace didn’t offer an affordable way to showcase your photos and celebrate your memories with others. Through our unique, patent-pending process, we’ve developed a type of canvas print that is a fraction of the cost of any other photo-to-canvas company and can easily be ordered through our website. Our prints make for beautiful wall art, personalized gifts and can even be used as a type of reminiscence therapy for those suffering with Alzheimer’s, all at a price point that wasn’t previously available. Our team is dedicated to working hard for the success of JustSayCheese.com as well as our efforts to become a large supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
For every canvas print sold, JustSayCheese.com will donate $1 to the Alzheimer’s Association.
I will continue to walk each year for my Dad – for my Grandma – for my Grandpa – and for the millions of other people impacted by the disease. Thank you for your support of our efforts and I look forward to seeing you at this year’s Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s on September 19th!
-By Larry Barrett