From my earliest memories, my grandma (“Grammie”) and great aunt (“Eheh”) were constant sources of love and support. My Eheh would pick me up after school and walk me home to her apartment where treats like sundaes and handmade dolls always awaited me. My Grammie would hold my hand in hers and kiss it over and over again, showering me with affection, every day.

As my Grammie and Eheh got older, their love remained strong as ever. But as they neared their late nineties, their bodies began to grow weaker. My Grammie developed Alzheimer’s disease and my Eheh suffered a hip injury. It became evident that they needed 24-7 care. And so, along with my other family members, I began dedicating a couple days a week to their care.

Because I was still in high school, and not yet in the workforce, when my Grammie and Eheh needed care, I was able to be there for them. And thank goodness for that, because that last bit of time with them was so important to me. I remember sitting at my Grammie’s feet, my head on her lap as she stroked my hair. I remember my Eheh’s bright blue eyes shining into mine as I told her about my favorite classes. That was time that I needed, just as much as my Grammie and Eheh did.

I hate the fact that so many people are forced to go into work even though their hearts are grieving for their sick family members, alone at home without care. It’s not fair and it’s not right. Who can focus on work when their loved ones are sick and in need of aid? We must pass Paid Family Leave. Our families need it and we do too.

-Dvora Walker: West Hartford, CT