A Morning Walk For Alzheimer’s

Today, I participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  It was bittersweet.  I hate that this disease hits not just close to home, but is actually in my home- my grandparents home.  The home I was raised in.

That’s my grandparents and me in Montana

A big part of why I am moving back to Arizona (Surprise!  I’m moving back Arizona!) is to be a bigger part of my grandmothers life.  You see, she has Alzheimer’s and it seems like her bad days are rapidly outnumbering her good days.  My grandfather, bless his heart, is trying to cope with the fallout that comes with this viciously cruel disease.

I didn’t want to believe it at first.  For at least two years, I lived in denial.  I said “no way” when friends said it may be Alzheimer’s that was making her irrational and paranoid.  I said, “impossible” when people told me that some Alzheimer’s patients lose their words and this inability to communicate sensibly wasn’t just from a bump on the head suffered years prior.  But it was hard to deny after countless tests were done and a neurologist concluded she has all the signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.

At first, it was easier to stay away.  I selfishly kept my phone calls short and my visits few.  I didn’t know how to deal with her this way.  I didn’t know how to rationalize her irrational behavior.  So I just didn’t.  But on my last visit home, I saw the toll her disease has taken on my grandfather. I saw the way that it has worn him down. I saw the emptiness in her eyes as she searched for words that would convey something, anything.  I saw the frustration, the fear and the anger that she doesn’t know how to express most days.  I saw the anger fear and frustration he feels he can’t express.  And I knew I couldn’t be so far away anymore.

Luckily, I work for a great organization that is allowing me to work remotely.  Luckily, my grandmother knows who I am and is mostly happy to see me. And luckily, I am at a place in my life that I have the flexibility to be where I need to be. So I’m moving back.  I’ll be able to do a job I enjoy while also finding a way to enjoy as much good time as I can with my grandmother, a woman who spent quite a few years putting up with me.

Life has a way of teaching you lessons and helping you grow.  And boy, is this going to force me to grow. I’m going to learn a new level of patience, forgiveness and selflessness.  I’m going to learn how to deal with losing someone one bit at a time.

Thinking about how lost she must get in her own mind sometimes makes me sad.  But knowing that hopefully I can be the brightness in her day gives me hope that this is the right decision, both for me and my family.
Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Angel Stadium

So like I said, today I participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  If you would like to make a contribution towards not just my fundraising goal, but also towards research, care, support and the hope of a future without Alzheimers, please donate HERE.

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