Hello friends and fair warning…this is going to be an emotional and transparent week of posts.
Russ is heading a team to walk in the October 8th Alzheimers Walk to Remember that will be held at Fairview Park at 9:00 AM (registration pickup 8:30)
I will be adding the details for signing up and donating at the bottom of each day’s post for your reference.
We walk for my dad. And we walk in the hopes that our kids will never suffer the pain of the longest walk we took with him for seven years.
Near the end of summer as John was headed into 7th grade, and Sarah and Rachel their second year of high school and college, respectively, I was following John around the local three par golf course as he finished a tournament when my cell phone rang.
It was a neighbor of my parents.
They had been keeping me posted for the past year as my mom tried to navigate what we knew was a steep decline in my dad’s mental state and she had added the care of her older sister who was dippy deep into dementia.
I was actively advocating for them to all move up here and trying to find places for them to live as my mother increasingly lost touch with reality.
She was slipping into exhaustion-induced paranoia that had me making multiple day trips to Louisville and back in order to convince her that FBI was not, in fact, parked outside her house waiting to haul her off to the federal penitentiary for signing a medical document for my aunt when Lizzie had asked for the 10 billionth time why they were seeing a doctor.
The neighbor reported that my mom had called for an ambulance the night before…for herself.
They had brought her back and according to the neighbor, she was near complete collapse.
I had to trek across the cart paths and locate John, nab him mid swing and pile him in the van.
We ran home and threw together a few personal things in suitcases, let Russ and the girls know we were headed to Louisville and that was the day the move to our area happened, completely removed from any preparations or lodging or knowledge of what we were in for.
We pulled up in my parents’ driveway in the heat and humidity of an August day in Louisville, KY that rivaled the pits of hell.
There sat my dad, with his arm around my mom, on the porch swing. My aunt was in a chair next to them. Mom was layered in pants and shorts and several sweaters, slumped over on my dad and I feared the worst.
It would be hard to completely explain what the next twenty four hours were like as I discretely packed up what I could of three senior adults’ belongings, realized my father had shredded all of their financial papers and had replaced them with a stack of files of his “work” that were requests for donations. He had faithfully been giving every month to multiple organizations and any junk mail that said he owed money.
Poor John was wide-eyed as he watched his grandpa vent full temper on me when my dad figured out I was packing them up and taking them from their home.
I called Russ and he met me halfway in Indy so I could feed them and take them to the bathroom and rescue our son from the periodic outbursts from my dad as we drove. I will never forget that ride and our sweet son making eye contact with me in the rear view mirror as we drove, fearful my dad would try to open the van door as we sped down the interstate.
I went directly to a doctor friend’s office and threw myself on his mercy, while Russ took my aunt and dad to our house.
It was like triage in the middle of a war where we were unprepared and had absolutely no knowledge of the enemy we were up against.
I couldn’t have done it without God, Russ and our incredibly supportive kids and friends.
Our parish nurse at church introduced me to the beast that is Alzheimers and I clung to the information she provided me to use as we navigated placement for three elderly family members.
My mother recovered beautifully and we found nice places for my aunt until she needed full nursing care. My father was a different story. By the time we got him that day, he was in the fifth stage of Alzheimers.
He was, according to doctors and nursing staff, the worst candidate.
First born, highly intelligent, creative, career military and a temper that in his best years had always gotten the best of him.
The years that followed were hard to watch and hard to live. But God is good.
So we walk.
We walk to remember him and the battle he didn’t understand but we knew painfully well.
We walk for research and information and support and awareness.
We walk for our friends who carry the scars of this disease and the ones who are caring for family now.
We walk in the hopes that as I lay my hands on my head and pray, our children will not walk through this ever again with one of us.
Please join us.
We would love for you to sign up for the team or donate to one of the walkers.
We would love for you to come to the park and show your love and support for those who have lost someone and for those who are losing someone daily.
Blessings and thank you <3
Donate or Join Team here: https://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2022/IL-Illinois?team_id=754140&pg=team&fr_id=15539