Brigid's Walk Donation Page
Bridie was a one of a kind woman. Caring, compassionate, strong-willed, family-orientated, faithful; she loved her family and friends more than life itself.
Bridie (Brigid) VanSlyck was one of eight children; the mother of seven children. From there she has fourteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. A typical, large, Irish, close-knit family. She was our Matriarch.
We knew that a couple of her older siblings had had either dementia or Alzheimers before they had passed, but as grandma got older and was still going strong, we thought we had dodged that bullet. I remember grams telling me that she prayed it never happened to her, anything else but "losing her mind." She had worked in a Nursing Home for years, and had seen the rapid decline in her older sister's (Mae) memory first hand ~ so it was a big fear of grams. But the disease seemed to creep up out of nowhere, and once it struck and took hold...the first 3 years have been a heartbreaking process for all of us, but especially my grandparents. July 2015 marked 64 years of marriage. She passed away a few months later in December 2015.
My grandpa, Bill (William), has always been the "bread winner," but my grandma had run the household. I remember mom had told me once that if there was someone coming to the house at the last minute, the whole place was cleaned top to bottom and everyone in the house (including your friends that came to hang out for a bit) were recruited for a job ~ vacumming, mopping, dusting, making beds, etc.
If there were any type of event going on or if someone had died that they somehow knew - you could always count on the fact that Bill and Bridie - and Kim (their youngest child) - were going to be there no matter what! In the beginning, and as grandma's memory continued to decline, it was very difficult for my grandpa to both understand and accept what was happening to her. He thought it was just some type of "phase" that she was going through, like menopause, and would snap back out of it soon.
In her last year alone, a large change in her mental status was seen. She was now always pleasantly confused with few lucid moments. Family and friends long gone from this world were remembered as if the last ten to twenty years had yet to pass and everyone was just a phone call or quick car ride away. It was expected to happen, but that didn't make it any less painful to watch. The worst was when she knew she was confused and the tears began; the lost look in her eyes and her asking us why this had to happen to her or why cant we just give her a pill that will stop it all. Those were hardest. As a granddaughter I felt helpless and all I could do was try to redirect her; as both a caregiver and RN I felt useless because I didn't have the "cure all" magic pill that would bring the grandma of my childhood back to us all.
I have seen the struggle, the frustration, the tears, and the pain from both the person suffering with the disease and their family/caregivers. I have assisted in the treatment and care of those with many different types of illnesses and diseases, but I think of them all - it is Alzheimers disease that is the worst. To be robbed of memories of loved ones? Of moments in your life that helped shape who you are as a person? To be turned into a shell of yourself and behave in a way that you never would have if you were in your right mind? Scary and unimaginable - but real. Though I have worked directly with these types of patients and their families, I had never truly been effected by the disease until my grandmother (and namesake) - Brigid (Bridie) VanSlyck - started showing the telling signs and symptoms.
So this is why I - along with "Bridies Brood" is walking. Not just to "help reclaim the future for millions," but for my grandmother, my family, and all the patients and caregivers I have come across over the years.
Thank you for helping us advance Alzheimer's support, care and research!
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