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Helping Grandma Remember with Music

When Nydel's grandmother is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Nydel turns to prayer and music during the tough times and has a deeper appreciation for INC music



Helping Grandma Remember with Music

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Nydel Ibarra: It was the middle of the night during a family vacation, and my uncle woke up to the sound of banging at the door. Well, when he opened the door, it was my grandmother, and she said, “I don’t remember going outside or how I got here. I don’t remember.” 

Something was obviously wrong with Grandma. 

Well, a year later, I noticed she would mistake the days of the week. She dressed for worship on days [when] there was no worship service. And then we noticed she would forget to eat and drink. And eventually she started forgetting who we were… because of Alzheimer’s.

Seeing grandma like that, it was… it was devastating. She wasn’t herself anymore. She was grumpy and lost all the time. I missed how she was before – confident and content. 

My grandmother, she’s one of my heroes, though. She always had one piece of advice for me. It’s okay to be sad, anak (child). Don’t worry! Magtiwala ka sa Diyos (You should trust God). Siya na ang bahala si iyo (He will take care of you). Just pray and trust in God because in the end, in the end… God is Good. God is good. 

Her faith inspired me so much. She was also the one who inspired me to play the organ. 

You know, growing up, my grandmother, she was like my second mom. So, I called her Mama. To this day, I still call her Mama. And as a kid, I remember I could hear her play worship service hymns on the piano, and the house would be filled with soulful music. She played so beautifully. She knew it too. To encourage me to practice, though, she knew she would have to tease me and say that I couldn’t play as well as her. You can’t play as well as me. She was kind of right. I wasn’t [as] good as her. I wasn’t as good as her – let me emphasize that. But, you know, she inspired me. I wanted to be just like her. 

Fun fact, Mama was an organist back in the Philippines. She told me how she would travel very far distances to perform in different local congregations, and how much she absolutely loved it. She loved it so much she wouldn’t stop talking about it. 

You know, I grew to love the organ, too. It’s kind of like “our thing” and it was a way for me to ease my anxiety. 

Playing makes me feel joyful. In times of happiness, sadness, confusion, or a need for inspiration – the organ is always where I want to be. You know, if you notice the hymns in the Church Of Christ, it expresses exactly how I feel. It teaches me how I can handle life’s heaviest troubles. And the hymns provides the exact words I would want to say [in] my prayers to God. 

And in one of my prayers, I ask God [to] make Mama strong, make her content, to lift her up when she’s down, and to help her to always remember Your goodness and Your love. 

And as time went on, I decided to finally purchase my own (used) Johannes organ so I could sharpen my skills at home. Buying this, I knew this would benefit me and my faith, and that was it. That’s all I really thought about. But it actually made an impact on Mama as well. I started to see that she was more of herself when she would hear the music coming from that organ that we just got. The worship services and even the INC Concerts. The INC Concerts… it was always a great time. She loves INC Concerts. All of a sudden, her face lights up every single time. I’ve never seen her happier. And I realized this organ was not a blessing just for me, it was a blessing for the both of us. 

I was so much more inspired to be a good organist because it was my way of thanking God for the gift of having a Mama stay present, and because I love this duty – we love this duty.

You know, it reminds me of a worship service led by our Brother Eduardo Manalo. He mentioned something about how when we get older, we might start to forget things. Right? But one thing he noticed… one thing he noticed was that the parents, the grandparents in the Church Of Christ, they never forget their duties. They never forget their duties. They will always remember to wear their Church uniform for worship services. And that’s what Mama did. She never forgot. I pray that when I get older, I will never forget that, too. 

I like to think that I now play as well as Mama did – probably not [laughs] … and while she sometimes forgets who we are, or what my name is, she remembers her love for music and how great God is. And it’s in those moments we are filled with gratitude for the time we have together and for the duty God has blessed us with. 

You know, Mama was right. It’s okay to be sad, but pray and trust a God because God is and will always be good. 

Thank you.

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Helping Grandma Remember with Music