Finding Dory, Finding My Grandmother

Dory on the Finding Nemo ride - image by Josh Hallett under CC BY 2.0The hype has started for the release of Disney-Pixar’s new movie, Finding Dory (the sequel to Finding Nemo), and it has me thinking of my grandmother. Yes, the movie is making me really miss my grandmother, and not just because the release date happens to be the day preceding my grandmother’s birthday.

Finding Nemo came out when our daughter was a toddler and when my grandmother was battling Alzheimer’s a few years before her death. We watched that movie with our daughter so many times I think I could easily have recited the whole movie. I discovered more than a few connections between Dory, the forgetful fish with a big heart, and my own grandmother Doris, the then “forgetful” lady who also had a big heart full of joy. While both Dory and Doris may have had their faults, it was nearly impossible not to love them dearly as they were.

Before my grandmother was diagnosed, and when I was much younger, she would tell me all sorts of amazing stories about her life as I sat in the passenger seat of her car, ABBA playing in the background. She told me over and over how she could manage anything life threw at her, as long as she still had a clear head and her car. Little did she realize that it would be those very attachments to which she clung so dearly that would be stripped from her in her last years.

As our family slowly lost my grandmother, one of the biggest losses I felt was that of losing her amazing stories along with her. I tried to remember them, but there was a fair bit of Dory in me as well in that regard. I kept promising myself to get her talking on a good day and record the stories, but I was a busy young mom and I let other things distract me. Like Dory, I remember bits of her stories, though sadly only enough to appreciate how very much I am missing.

I wish with all my heart that I could remember more of my grandmother’s stories, but I know that somehow they are deep inside me, as they sometimes rise to the surface. Some of the scattered pieces of her story that stay with me include her long vocation discernment process, having nearly become a nun, her work with the local Jesuit school and the priests who ministered there, and her love of writing. I see these pieces as a few of the seeds scattered and sewn in me that led me to Ignatian spirituality.

In the new movie, Dory is setting out to find her family, her story. In my grandmother’s final years, the tide swept her away from remembering her own story, and I was swept up right along with her. But, just like Dory, I am left with a few memories that may, by the grace of God, help me find my way back to her side in the communion of saints.

Image by Josh Hallett under CC BY 2.0.

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Cara Callbeck
Cara Callbeck holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and works in the public sector as a human resources professional. Cara recently completed the Spiritual Exercises and has since felt quite drawn to Ignatian spirituality. She is now on a quest to learn more and grow and to incorporate Ignatian spirituality in her life as a professional, mother, and “woman for others.” Cara lives in the Canadian Prairies with the two greatest blessings in her life—her husband and daughter.


  1. I remember with deep gratitude my very prayerful grandmother. She was widowed young and had 2 young children to bring up singlehandedly without much education. Her family was careful to keep their distance so that they would not be saddled with 3 of them. However her tremendous faith in God’s providence saw her through v.difficult times. Her legacy to us her 6 grandchildren – recitation of daily rosary and a hail mary before we left the house for any reason. Now a senior citizen myself I am grateful to God for the example of complete trust and dependence on him when u have no security at all. May her soul rest in peace

  2. My grandmother lived with our family and her room was right next to mine. She would bring out her hat box of old photos and tell weave a cloth of wonderful stories from those threads. When I played Christmas albums on my stereo she felt she was in heaven. Her life held many sorrows, but her faith made her strong. I still treasure the little notes she would include with letters from home when I was in college which expressed her love and prayers. At Mass I close my eyes and feel her there beside me in the communion of saints.

  3. What a warm and loving portrait of a grandmother. It made me teary for my own. I wish Cara had told us one of Grandmother’s stories.


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