Stories That Inspire

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My Name Is Shirley

I should have started getting a clue when, on the rides to Maine for the weekend, my mom would keep looking out the car windows in wonder, and say, “Look at all those trees!” Because, it wasn’t said once, but countless times over; each time in amazement as if it were the first time to her. That was many years ago. My mom was an R.N., and had seven children. How she did it I’ll never know. Now she is 92, and still lives at home under the care of my elder sisters and brother. She goes to Adult Day Care. My home is decorated with her handmade crafts, a glass butterfly, a wooden basket, a painted seashell. She is popular there, because she is always smiling and laughing. Sometimes I call her after a day at day care. What did you do today? “ I just sat here all day.” Visiting her at my sister’s home, we will all eat together. She will pick up her fork, and say, “What am I supposed to do with this?” She doesn’t really know she is our mother, so, now she is our friend, and I call her Shirley. As friends, we can play and laugh together. She is not plagued by trying to remember having children. Having US. We can’t stand that blank, scared look in her eyes. Now, she is the child. I thank my family for caring for her; so she can live out her days in the home she grew up in. I enjoy the moments. That is all she has. When she smiles, it is a treasure to me. For that moment, she is happy. I only cry for her afterwards, so she will not see.

b.a. roger
Pawtucket, RI

Our journey with Alzheimer's disease

Our journey with Alzheimer's disease

My Grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2010. We started noticing behavioral changes and memory loss but we didn't get an official diagnosis until she was into Stage 4. My Grandma is the family's rock, our world and an amazing person. She is a proud mom of 8 children, grandma of 16, great-grandma of 26 and great-great grandma of 1. She was a very strong, willful, independent woman and to see her with Alzheimer's has been one of the hardest things to watch her go through. I love her so very much and do my best to give and show her the love and support she has always given me. She is and always will be my kindred spirit, my role model, my best friend. Two peas in a pod.

Kristina Schultz
Muncie, IN

My Father in Law

I married into this family 33 years ago. I work in the medical field and know a lot about Alzheimers thru my job. Mark started to decline, he would not be able to remember something or a specific event. This is when everything started to go down hill. Dad/Mark would before this terrible disease stole his memory, would always say to me when we would get together "hey kid, how are you doing?" On one day when he had been admitted to the hospital, he kept asking me who I was... I knew from then on that we had lost him. Dad/Mark, loved to tell stories of when he was in the war and different places he had visited. The last few months were the absolute worse for him and us. He had to stay in a locked down unit at this nursing home, just so he would be safe. It broke my heart when he would cry when we had to leave for the day, he just sobbed and did not understanding why he could not come home. Dad/Mark developed pneumonia and was going down hill very fast...spent the last night with him at the nursing home. Listening to him struggle to breath was heart breaking, and the cries for his mom. Dad/Mark died November 26, 2012. I was not able to be with him when he took his last breath, but at least he was not in any pain anymore.. RIP Dad-miss you so much...

Anonymous
Noblesville, IN

The Steepest Hill

This is the steepest hill one ever has to climb! Entering into my husband's world of mist, far above the clouds. Each cloud representative of the many phases of Alzheimers Disease that I have encountered on a daily basis, and stumbling and falling far short of what is needed to make my loved one feel at ease in his journey from the basic memory loss to total lack of cognizant human behavior. We strive to aid and comfort, but we don't always know the way... we fail often in basic care taking, reassurances and in being able to love wholly. We are humanity. The clouds shed intermittent shadows on my life as well, but I have slowly begun to revisit my existence, attempting to regain semblance of order towards my future below the mist, with the support, prayers and love of family and friends. It is paramount I do not lose my way as well, in the mist. The mist is but a shroud encircling all care takers. We must be strong and conquer the invader and remain vigilant in every way possible, through prayer, through research, through our giving and caring, through wherever the road may lead. The Good Shepherd guides him as I see he doesn't want to leave me, eyes beseechingly exploring my being as I his, wishing it could be different. AD shows no mercy as it feeds on ever more vital brain cells, until one day there will be no more. They are long gone from us somewhere in this climb to the stars far above. And life goes on, and in time we must relinquish our hold and allow him to take the Shepherd's hand.

June M. Gregory
Manchester, NJ

I'll Fly Away

I'll Fly Away

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2007 after being hospitalized for overdosing on her medication. The doctor informed us that Mom would need 24/7 care. With much discussion and agonizing on what would be best for Mom, it was decided that an assisted living facility would be best. After a few years in assisted living and the progression for her Alzheimer's Mom had to move to a nursing home. This decision was not made lightly and was heart wrenching for all us kids. No one WANTS to put their loved one in a "home" and when you tell someone that your mother is in a home the reaction is sometimes judgmental and things are said like " I would never put my mother in a home" Well, one can never truly guarantee you might not have to make that hard decision. While in the nursing home my siblings and myself visited almost everyday. Mom's Alzheimer's continued to progress and at times she didn't recognize her family. But no matter how bad her memory got she always remembered her music. When we would visit we would sing with her. She sang like a bird and remembered every word to the songs that she use to sing in church, her favorites like Patsy Cline, George Jones etc. When it got to the point that it was difficult to have a conversation with Mom. we just sang. It was like she didn't have Alzheimer's when she was singing. Music is a powerful thing! Mom passed away in November 2013 from kidney failure. I am grateful that the kidney disease took my mother instead of her getting to the point with Alzheimer's disease when she lost the ability to eat, lift her head or even smile. I think of Mom everyday and miss our time together.

Rita F Arnett
Spring Grove, PA

Helping Each Other Out

My momma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at age 77. Although I didn't want to admit it to myself, I could start to notice small things that alerted me to something not being right. The doctors said she could no longer live by herself and told me it was time to put her in a home. After me telling the doctor I would never put her in a home and him repeatedly telling me that I wouldn't be able to care for her, I won out. She moved in with me. There were many days I was frustrated, days I was so tired, because she got where she would only nap 10 minutes here and there throughout the day an night. I spent a lot of hours listening to her talk to me about me, as she no longer knew who I was, just a familiar face. I was lucky enough to have my kids, a cousin, and two wonderful friends to help some. The good so outweighed the bad, so many good memories in the last years of her life. I wouldn't' trade them for anything. My momma past away nine years later in her bed, in my living room with the people she loved close to her. Love you momma and miss you everyday.

Tamera Wilson
Noble, IL

Searchign For A Cure

My dad is 82 and has it. He really struggles in everyday life. He is at home and will be until his care can no longer be done. He is still sweet and knows the family or the ones he sees often. The downers is the worst. It starts about 5 p.m., he gets very confused. Dad was a man that always had a couple hundred dollars in his pocket at all times. No sure what stage dad is in maybe 3 or 4. Thank God there are some meds that help his mood. Wish there could be a cure I would so love to have my daddy back! My mom passed away eight years ago, she had dementia and that was just as bad. Please find a cure for this awful disease and a way to care for our aging parents and loved ones living with Alzheimer's.

Evelyn Birk
Louisville, KY

Sweet Mama

We were very lucky with my mom. She had Alzheimer's disease for around 15-16 years but was never violent. It is the saddest disease anyone can have. My dad passed away with cancer but in my opinion it was easier to cope with than the Alzheimer's disease mom had. The blank, lost, confused, and scared person I would see when I looked in her precious eyes. Sometimes it was almost more than I could care. Near the end she was scared to death because she recognized nor knew anyone (about the last 2 or 2-and-a-half years.) I love and miss that sweet mama I had, but I would never ask God to send her back. She has a new body now. Praise the Lord! I love you mama and we will meet again one day real soon and we can both sit at Jesus' feet and worship him tougher! Thank you God for this wonderful promise!

Tina Kindt
Mantachie, MS

In Memory Of Louise Mary Hunt Roy

My dear momma suffered so long but she was most of the time smiling and dancing with me. The day she passed she was so at peace and my sister and I were by her side. I know that she is in Heaven and I will see her again one day. Enjoy the love and memories and have faith in Jesus. In memory of Louise Mary Hunt Roy

Carla Hunt Glover
Charleston, WV

It's My Turn To Take Care Of You

My mother had Alzheimer's. She was diagnosed in her early 60s. Over the years she struggled with remembering and emotions. The last year of her life was very exhausting for her. It came to the point where she needed more care than could be given at home, so she went into a nursing home. Her struggles were many and her emotions were everywhere. It was so sad to watch a once vibrant, energetic, fun, loving mother, grandmother, and wife withdraw from life and her family. My heart aches everyday for her absence. But I hold on to the many precious memories that are forever stamped in my heart. Even in the last year she left me with many precious memories, as I helped care for her, memories that I will always hold dear to my heart. She once apologized to me for me taking are of her, I asked her, "Mom do you regret taking care of me all the years that you did?" She looked at me and said, "No, I didn't." I replied, "It's my turn to take care of you because I love you and I have no regrets." My mother passed away on Oct. 13, 2012.

Deborah Downey Bartram
Ashland, KY