How do you best honor the memory of a loved one? Perhaps no one has the perfect answer, but Nancy and Meg Scagnelli have come close.
The mother-daughter team (Meg is a seventh-grader at F.H. Tuttle Middle School, and her mother Nancy is an Elder Care Manager and co-founder of Elder Care Connections of Vermont) created “I Remember You” bracelets to honor those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and the people who care for and love them.
“The idea for ‘I Remember You’ bracelets began with the death of my mother Ann last November. She had lived with Alzheimer’s for eleven years,” reflected Nancy. “Meg and I and other members of our family wanted a way we might honor Meg’s grandmother’s life and get involved to make a difference.”
The perfect answer came to Meg, who had an especially close relationship with her grandmother and who chose to create bracelets as a symbol of support for those impacted by Alzheimer’s. Profits from sales of the bracelets, envisioned Meg, would go to support the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“My mother always responded to textures, especially soft things,” recalled Nancy. “Meg experimented with fabrics. She’d bring the bracelets she made into school, and her friends were buying them. People are amazing. When they see your heart is in it, they want to help.”
“I liked trying to find different looks for the bracelets that would mean different things,” explained Meg, adding that she worked mainly with varying shades of purple, the color associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The popularity of the bracelets led to investigating ways to make them more durable and to consider imprinting a message on them. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can we offer a positive message on the bracelets that will unite the millions of us impacted by Alzheimer’s?’” Nancy noted.
Working closely with friend and eventual business partner Annie Condon and her daughter Zelie as well as with a local artist, the duo landed on the idea of using leather as the material with the message “I Remember You” debossed on the leather. “As Alzheimer’s progresses,” explained Nancy, “you lose the ability to read. Allowing the message to be debossed so you can feel the raised lettering means anyone can rub the bracelet and feel soothed by the message.”
A removable card attached to the bracelets explains the message further: “Even though you may no longer remember me, I remember you…These bracelets symbolize unity and support for the millions of us experiencing the impact of Alzheimer’s disease every day.”
“Since I started wearing mine to school,” Meg said, “people are interested. Sometimes they’ll pick up my wrist and want to know what the message means. It’s interesting how all ages enjoy them.”
Meg and her mother had a chance to clearly see this enjoyment when they sold the bracelets at the September 25 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Shelburne Museum. “Many people didn’t buy just one; they also bought one for their friend or sister or brother,” noted Meg. Additionally, the bracelets are beginning to be distributed nationally through the Elder Care Connections of Vermont website.
The altruistic journey of mother and daughter has brought them into contact with “amazing people,” Nancy stated. “Sometimes the journey of Alzheimer’s can be lonely and stressful and devastating, so we want to continue to let people know that they’re not alone, that we’re in this together, that we’re united in this fight against the disease.”
“When you first try to do something that might make a difference,” concluded Meg, “you might feel you are the only one trying. But then once you try it, you realize many people want to join your small steps toward a big action that can help make a difference.”
SOURCE: Susie Merrick, Contributor