“My mother is Estelle. She will turn 74 in August. I will never forget the day she told me she’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She was only 66 at the time, entirely too young for that “old person’s” disease – so I thought. I remember telling her, “Mom, that doctor is crazy, you can’t have Alzheimer’s, that’s for people in their 80’s and 90’s – we need to get a second opinion.” I said I didn’t want her to ever mention the “A word” again. At that time, my mother was working as a caregiver for Alzheimer’s patients in their homes. A job that she enjoyed and took pride in; serving others.
We didn’t see much change in mom’s mental status over the next few years. Perhaps some increased stuttering and forgetfulness; still I was sure those doctors were wrong. Sometimes the line between hope and denial becomes blurred. My mother is now in the late stage. She can no longer walk, talk or feed herself. This once very independent, creative woman is completely dependent on others. Alzheimer’s has stolen so much. My mom’s smile, laugh, her off-the-wall sense of humor and here creativeness are all gone. And my children are robbed of their grandmother who loved them so much. I miss meals at her perfectly kept house, and the way she would hug and kiss my son and daughter. She truly was an awesome grandmother.
I walk for my mother, Stella, as I used to jokingly refer to her. I walk because a person’s life should not have to end in this dreadful manner. I walk to honor all who have lost loved ones, and those who will go through this struggle in the future. I walk to increase awareness of this disease, and to share with others that a person does not have to be in their 90’s, 80’s, 70’s or even 60’s to be robbed by it. I help raise money to support the Alzheimer’s Association in finding new medications, therapies, family support programs and, ultimately, a cure for this life robbing killer. I hope and pray that a cure is found in my lifetime, or certainly in the lifetime of my children. I’m committed to the Alzheimer’s Association so that one day, no one else will have to lose their mother – their Stella.”
Al May, Ocala