by Bracken Burns
I once sat down and calculated how many meals my Mom had made for her husband and six kids during her lifetime. You know, three meals a day seven days a week with rarely a meal eaten out or someone missing from the table. That rough calculation was about 240,000!
That's right, almost a quarter of a million meals served up with love and never a complaint and, now that I think about it, rarely a thank you from the hungry recipients.
How many loads of dirty laundry, baskets of wet clothes hung on a line in the back yard, shirts ironed, pants ironed and folded, socks matched and rolled, rooms cleaned, shelves dusted, wounds healed, broken hearts mended, bits of advice shared over those many years of being "Mom" to so many?
I know I am not the first one to realize that "housewives" have been under-appreciated. If I hadn't been forced to watch this wonderful, caring, lovely lady waste away in her final years I may have never appreciated her contributions. There's something about watching each and every aspect of her - her very essence - being stripped away that leaves you very very sad.
You probably guessed by now that Mom had Alzheimer's Disease. Good guess, she actually had Dementia one of Alzheimer's ugly sisters.
In addition to being beautiful and talented (isn't everybody's Mom) Jane Burns was the ultimate judge of what was "proper." She cared passionately about things like manners and respect! How ironic it was when this most proper lady began to converse with total strangers and say totally inappropriate things to friends and family.
One could only wish that the decline would have stopped at socially inappropriate! Over time she lost everything; her memory, her dignity, her good health, her concern for personal appearance, her appetite, she even had her wedding and birthstone rings stolen from her to complete the bizarre disappearing act that played out before her bewildered friends and family.
If you've ever wondered why I have worn an angel on my lapel daily for the past 23 years or why when I was handed an Alzheimer's bracelet 10 years ago I put it on and have worn it ever since - well, now you know. The angel was among the possessions my Mom left and I wear it in honor of her. The bracelet is a constant reminder of how much I want to "get even" with Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Mary Lynn Spilak, Washington County's Aging Services Director, asked me to chair the "Walk to End Alzheimer's" several years ago and it has been an honor to do that each year. It's not walking a mile in a park that makes me feel good - it's knowing that we've put another $80,000 on the table to beat this dread disease that does.
This year we will walk again on October 7th, Washington Wildthings Park, 9 a.m. Everyone is invited. If you have lost someone to Alzheimers or Dementia I can assure you that the walk and the knowledge that you are making a difference will help.
For information about the walk, making a donation, forming a team, caring for a loved one, or just about anything else, you can call Mary Lynn at 724 228 2062.
Thank you for helping us advance Alzheimer's support, care and research!
I have raised
Walk Committee Member