When Fabio talks about his grandmother Giuseppina, the love and respect he has for her is unmistakable. The woman he describes is warm, fun-spirited and hard-working; a woman who would do anything for the ones she loves. As the eldest of eight grandchildren, Fabio shared a unique bond with Giuseppina, who passed away earlier this year after living with ALS since September 2016.

The emotional repercussions of an ALS diagnosis can affect every member of a family. Fabio does not consider himself the primary caregiver for his grandmother, but the impact she had on his life is palpable in the way he describes her. He had always made a point of visiting with his grandparents, but when Giuseppina was diagnosed, he began to visit more often.

“I knew she didn’t have a lot of time left,” he recalls earnestly. “I wanted to give her the love and attention that I thought she deserved.”

According to Fabio, Giuseppina was the type of woman who lived vicariously; a woman who loved to dance and loved to talk. When ALS took away her ability to move and communicate, Fabio was heartbroken, upset and angry. But he didn’t let those emotions take over.

“[Giuseppina] was the rock and cornerstone of our family,” he says. “She never gave up and never quit. Nothing could stop her. It broke my heart to watch her become trapped inside her own body, but I learned to come to peace with myself.” He continues: “I pretended that she didn’t have ALS and decided not to look at her any differently. Despite her illness, she was still my grandmother. I cherished and loved her every single day.”

Through his experience with ALS and losing his grandmother, Fabio learned to appreciate life differently in that he takes nothing for granted. He approaches his life with the intention of focusing on the positive and making the best of even the worst situations.

One way he does this is by supporting ALS Canada. Shortly after his grandmother’s passing, Fabio decided to host a broadcasting event for his online followers in order to collect donations. His goal was to raise $500, which he accomplished within an hour and a half. In three hours he had raised more than $1,000.

Fabio’s best advice for loved ones and caregivers is to cherish every moment you’re given. He acknowledges that the suffering will be hard; there will be heartbreak, agony and sorrow. But it’s important to remember the good times.

“If you’re going to cry,” he urges, “don’t cry for being upset. Cry for the good times that you had together.”

Giuseppina is remembered as an engaging woman who always wanted the best for others, and empowered them to be the best version of themselves. Fabio and his family honour her memory by saying a prayer at special gatherings to remember the good times they all shared.

During the month of June for ALS Awareness Month, we will be sharing the stories of people living with and affected by ALS who have chosen to seize each day in whatever way they can. You can also share your own stories and reflections on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and hashtag #SeizeTodayALS.

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