Ashley Canino, NY

Senior Writer

Ashley is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY. After college, she simultaneously pursued a career in marketing and built a print and digital portfolio of interviews with subjects from varied disciplines and backgrounds. In spring 2015, Ashley left her management position in media research with a major television network to exclusively freelance write. She has published several essays and countless op/eds that are engaging and deeply personal. Currently, she is writing a memoir, The Hole in the Middle, that reflects on her complex relationship with her mother and late grandmother.

As a Story Terrace writer, Ashley interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

I Love You More

The chill of the nursing home pushed away the warmth of the summer sun. I rode the elevator up to my grandmother’s floor, preparing myself for what I might see—who she might be—on this day. The Alzheimer’s swung like a pendulum between the comfort of clarity and the isolating pain of forgetting. I had thus far escaped what everyone else in the family had already confronted; she always remembered me, even though it sometimes took a little bit of jostling. I settled into the thought of recognition warming her eyes and her cheeks, and I committed to having a good day with her.

But it did end up being the visit I had dreaded. Over the next three hours of winding chatter, TV watching, and snacking on her favorite junk foods, I begged her several times to remember me, her first grandchild. Sometimes she just stared and others she chuckled her new laugh, the one that was slightly more hollow, a space filler.

Tears and tension built behind my face, but I stayed outwardly positive for her sake. I’d thought our bond remarkable enough to overcome the insidious creep of dementia. Was she still my nana if she didn’t remember that I was the grandbaby she raised?

When I watched her in her wheelchair nodding to faint music on the radio, the only resident in the room who seemed to be aware of the crooner playing just for them, I caught a glance of her old self, the music lover. When I spilled chocolate milk all over my shirt she broke out into hysterical laughter, and I saw the woman who searched for levity amid the difficulties in life. I felt again that maybe some things may persist, beyond the grasp of her disease.

By the time I had to leave, I was sure of it.

I wrapped my arms around her and whispered, “I love you.”

“I love you more,” she responded. Our phrase, the one she reserved only for me.

I pulled back and looked into her eyes and repeated the words I wished I hadn’t resisted saying as a teenager.

“I love you more,” she said again, her eyes dancing and playful, a wide smile on her face. She looked happy. A piece of her saw me and in doing so, helped me see her.

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