Selina Lavonne Rambo and “Grandpa’s Wise Words”

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Each May during ALS Awareness Month, we come together to shine a light on people living with ALS, the families that are impacted, and remember those who have passed away from the disease. People like Selina, who wants to be sure her father's "Wise Words" continue to resonate not only with her and her children, but also with the entire community

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The thing about those who work to serve and protect others—people like police officers, firefighters, paramedics—is that more often than not, they have to work when it’s best for the community and not always for their families. Selina Lavonne Rambo knows this all too well. Her father, Terrance Brollini, was a California Highway Patrolman in San Diego, and Selina remembers him working many overnight shifts when she was growing up.

“I would wake up around the time he would come home,” Selina said. “I would wait at the kitchen table for him so we could eat our Coco Krispies together and I enthusiastically could listen about his previous night’s adventure. My favorite memories are still the ones when he just came home after work and ate cereal with me.”

Selina remembers her father’s amazing talent for storytelling; it was just part of his charm, and kindness. “His quirky way of telling jokes and deep belly laughing before he could tell you the punch line,” she said. “His ability to tell you stories that made you feel as if you were a part of that story. He would make others feel included, cared about, and seen. Love surrounded him and he made sure others felt his appreciation.”

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I have noticed that when I think about my dad, a smile immediately covers my face. I would say that this probably happens to many people who had the pleasure of being in his presence when he comes to mind.”

Growing up in a house where she was “spoiled with love” from both her parents, Selina knew she wanted her own kids to have that experience when she was ready to start a family. “These memories have influenced me in how I am with my children,” she said. “Every moment counts in my family, and I make sure when I am with my children, I am present, they know they are loved, and fun memories that can last a lifetime can be made anywhere, even together at our kitchen table.”

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But for Selina, just as she was starting a family of her own, her larger family was forever changed by ALS. “In March of 2019, just one week after the birth of my first son, my father was diagnosed with ALS,” she said. “The diagnosis and the fight were difficult, but it also brought to light the desire to be more mindful. My father passed in May 2022 after a three-year fight with this awful disease.”

Selina and her family moved in next door to her parents after her dad was diagnosed, which allowed her children, and particularly her oldest son, to develop a deep relationship with their grandfather. “They had similar interests, and it was rare not to see them together playing dinosaurs or watching musicals. My eldest son was quick to learn how to navigate my father’s electric wheelchair, so it was common to see them riding up to the park by our house.”

These journeys to the park were part of an inspiration for Selina to create a children’s book about their experiences living with ALS as an intergenerational family.

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When I was writing this book, although my children are young, I wanted them to remember their grandpa for the amazing man he was, the times their grandpa played with them, the walks they would take together, and their grandpa’s wise words.”

“This idea for the book “Grandpa’s Wise Words,” stemmed from searching for children’s stories that were similar to our story. It was limited,” Selina said. “This sparked the idea of creating a story that could speak to not only our family, but other families as well. I wanted to share what we learned navigating life with ALS, and it is the importance of living in the moment.”

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So, on top of her busy life both personally and professionally, Selina began the process of creating “Grandpa’s Wise Words,” where a grandson seeks his grandfather’s comfort from an upsetting experience. The story is written from the perspective of the grandson, as he learns an important lesson from grandpa about focusing on right now and appreciating the joys in life.

“When I first started, the writing and publishing process felt completely foreign to me. It involved extensive research and plenty of trial and error before reaching the final publication,” Selina said. Fortunately, she had a friend who had the artistic style and talent to bring her words to life through the illustrations. And thus, over time, her vision came to life.

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The story isn’t about his grandpa’s ALS, but his lesson that “sometimes it’s best to just be here and enjoy this time and place.” It’s a powerful message for everyone, everywhere facing the disease.

“Hopefully, this story inspires others to appreciate all the joys life can bring,” Selina said. “I'm eager to write more stories about my children's experiences with their grandpa. There will be more opportunities for grandpa to share his ‘wise words.’”

Thank you, Selina, for sharing your story and your father’s “Wise Words” with us and the entire ALS community. You can share your story today and help others feel connected to the impact of this disease.

Please join us this month and show people living with ALS and their families they are not alone. Learn more about ALS and find out how you can get involved HERE.

Join us this summer at ALS Nexus, a conference featuring a variety of sessions that focus on the latest developments and opportunities in research, care, and advocacy. Learn more and register TODAY!

To continue to follow stories about people living with ALS in the community and learn more about the disease, subscribe to receive our weekly blogs in your inbox HERE or follow us at als.org/blog.

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Comments

Submitted by: Wil M. on Sat, 05/25/2024

Wonderful bio of a terrific man and his family!

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