Tag Archives: alzheimer’s disease

Thanksgiving 2019

Life can be so unpredictable. At the end of October, when I published what I thought would be my final blog post for at least six months to a year, I certainly didn’t think I would be writing another one before the end of 2019. But when life is unpredictable, the best place to go is to the community that has supported and loved you, so here I am.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, my husband received a call from his mother. If you have been following this blog, you know that Michael’s dad has had Alzheimer’s for several years. His mom told us that his health had taken a turn for the worse, and we needed to come say goodbye.

So, Monday morning, we packed up our car and made the day’s trek to Arkansas to say goodbye. On Tuesday afternoon, Michael’s dad passed away.

Tuesday. On the fifth anniversary of my first daughter’s stillbirth.

A week after I got the diagnosis that our daughter had passed away, I wrote a blog post of thanksgiving. I felt that it was appropriate, here a week after my father-in-law has passed, that I would write another post of thanksgiving.

I am thankful that Tony is free from the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. His body and mind are once again whole. I am thankful for the advocates that fight and raise funds to find a cure to this disease. We will continue to walk for the cure in honor of Tony as well as other family members who have been affected by it.

I’m thankful for the community that surrounds my mother-in-law and has surrounded her for these past several years. We don’t live very close by, so knowing that her friends could be there for her in the moments we weren’t able to was such a comfort. Community is such an incredible gift from God.

I am thankful for the few cherished memories I have of Tony. I didn’t get to know him well before the disease started affecting him, but one of my best memories of Tony was the time we were in a parking lot, walking to somewhere, and he was walking behind everyone else. So, I went back to walk next to him and gave him a side squeeze before taking my arm in his. He smiled at me and said he loved a good hug when he could get one.

I am thankful for the pieces of Tony that I see in my son. My son has that same penchant for a good hug. Also, when my son is thinking hard about a problem, he makes the same face Tony did. I look forward to the glimpses of Tony we will see in the years to come.

I am thankful for the memories that Michael has of his dad and the impact his dad had on him. One of his best memories is of going down to the creek with his dad and his brother to explore. I see how that love for exploration has encouraged Michael to stay curious about his passions and the world around him and to never stop learning.

I am thankful for the many ways Tony has affected the world around him. When my mother-in-law posted his passing on her Facebook, there were so many comments of how special Tony was to other people, how he encouraged, loved, and impacted their lives. I’ve been able to get to know even more about this amazing man through the stories and perspectives of those he has loved.

Most of all, I am thankful for God in whom we can place our trust and hope. He makes his presence known in such powerful ways on the darkest days. I know that Tony is finally free from the struggles of this life and has received his promised reward. And for that, I am so thankful.

Walk For The Cure

I spent the summer of my freshman year of high school taking care of my great grandmother who had dementia. We didn’t live near each other growing up, so by the time I was taking care of her, she really didn’t know who I was. Still, she was sweet, loved to take walks and sing songs. She would chat about everything.

My great-grandma

But after that summer, I moved to another city and wasn’t able to visit as often. My grandma shared the struggles of taking care of her mom, moving her into a full-time facility, and watching her continue to decline. When she passed away, I was sad that she was gone, but I also felt joy knowing that she was once again whole and at rest from all of the fear and struggle she had to endure.

So, when my father-in-law got the diagnosis of dementia stemming from a series of mini-strokes, I knew where the road would lead. I knew at some point, he wouldn’t know who I was, or who my husband was, his own son. And eventually, I knew that all of his memories would slowly disappear altogether. Even though I had been here before, nothing can completely prepare you for what lies ahead. I had dealt with grief and loss in the past, but this kind of grief was different.

Michael and his dad

My therapist calls it ambiguous grief. The kind of grief one has when having a loved one with a terminal illness. It settles in long before they physically pass away. Every goodbye could be the last one. You don’t know how fast the decline will be, either mentally or physically. It can cause anxiety, numbness, or both, ebbing and flowing throughout the entire process. And for me, the most important thing I knew about this type of grief is that it shouldn’t be navigated alone.

Then, really by complete chance, I saw an advertisement for the Alzheimer Walk back in 2010. It was going to be at the Dallas Zoo, which sounded like a lot of fun. Plus, I knew that in the coming years, this organization was going to become more and more important to us as a resource and a community. I knew, like with my great-grandmother, that there was going to be a point when I would feel the overwhelming ambiguous grief and complete helplessness. I realized that participating in this cause was something we could do to support not only our families, but everyone who is affected by this disease.

Our first Walk back in 2010.

This will be our tenth year to walk. We walk for caretaker support, to provide resources and aid to people like my mother-in-law who are caring for loved ones with this disease. We walk to remember those like my great-grandmother who already passed away. We walk to remember those like my father-in-law who are presently in the grips of Alzheimer’s. We walk for those in the future who will face this disease, that there will not only be better research and medicine, but a complete cure.

Our team is trying to raise $500 dollars, and I’m personally trying to do my part by raising $250. If you are able to help us reach that goal, please click the link below. But even if you can’t support us financially this time around, please keep us in your prayers or happy thoughts as we approach the walk this year. Pray for good weather and that everyone there feels loved and supported, that they aren’t alone in the struggle.

Link to my Fundraising Page