As Chief of Children’s Division of Pediatric Rheumatology, Dr. Sampath Prahalad knows that keeping social and emotional connections strong is an important component of physician wellness. But it was his daughters, Vaishali, 14, and Aishvarya, now almost 11, who helped teach their dad and his family the immeasurable value of connecting.
Several years ago, the girls started their first entrepreneurial adventure, GrandStories. During trips to the library, dad made sure the girls included at least one non-fiction book, and they often selected biographies. But one day, the girls observed, “we find all these biographies of famous people but we know very little about our own grandparents.” Their initial questions about family ties led to more, until they had enough to write a book. And a fledgling business was born.
As families complete their GrandStories, each book becomes a unique family keepsake. The community benefits, too, as the girls contribute a portion of their revenues to local causes, including Emory’s Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and Children’s therapy dog program.
While the endeavor has been a learning experience for his daughters, Dr. Prahal has also learned a great deal. First, his daughters’ vision helped him realize how important it is to stay connected to the things he values. “As physicians, we deal with a lot of stress. Sometimes, we lose perspective of what the important things are: What do people want? What is important to them? I think GrandStories give perspective, give importance to things that are valuable in life. With time, everyone loses a lot of their memories. These books are like wine -- the older it gets, the more valuable it is.”
He also learned things about his own family, like the fact that his grandmother liked music and his mother loved to dance – things he never knew about those important women in his life. In 2016, Prahal’s father in India wrote his own story. “He didn’t talk much but he wrote a lot. We were visiting and the night before we left for the U.S., it was like 4 a.m., he was sitting there writing; he wanted to finish it before we left. I lost my dad in 2018, and having his handwritten memories is one of the greatest things to come out of this journey.”
And yes, Dr. Prahal has started his own grand story, which will include recollections of the time he met Mother Theresa while in medical school.