This is my story. I am walking in honor and in memory of my father Donald Walker. He lost his battle with Dementia on February 3, 2020. Lots of you knew my dad because we had such a large family that many of our friends and acquaintances were able to meet and become friends with him. He treated everyone like family. Growing up if he gave one of us a dollar for an ice cream he gave our friends the same. He always believed in doing the right thing! I will also share that my father and mother had 10 children and we were all raised and treated equally. They also were recipients of 22 grandchildren, 40 great grandchildren and 13 great great grandchildren at the time of his passing. Anyone that knew him would tell you that those grands were the light of his life. His eyes and smile lit up when any of them were around. Our dad taught each of us what family means and to never forget to express it. Never a phone call would end without saying I love you. I also had the advantage of living beside him and every night when I would walk across the driveway home he would always watch me to make sure I didn't fall and always a " good night I love you". I miss all of those things and more. He was my HERO ! So in 2017 when he began showing the early signs of dementia it was so very hard to accept because I had heard the horrible stories from others on what it did to their loved ones. Our family soon found that we were now telling those stories. The ones where you sometimes think he's fine and not progressing to then soon after you find he doesn't know who you are. He always knew we were important though because we took care of him. The hardest for me was when he looked at my moms pictures whom he was married for 54 years to and he didn't recognize her. So yes we had to face the reality that though this was our father in body , his mind was most definitely not of the father that we grew up with. We loved him dearly no matter what. Now 3 years later I still look across my driveway which I shared with him and see the empty chair on the porch that he would sit in day after day and watch the cars go by or occasionally a neighbor friend would stop and share a cold soda and some funny stories with, and I miss him more! While being a caregiver for him I learned that this Disease does not distinguish between who you are or how you lived your life and isn't stopping and neither are we. By participating in the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's®, I'm raising funds and awareness to advance the fight against this disease - funds that allow the Alzheimer's Association® to provide 24/7 care and support while accelerating critical research. If you have not had to experience this Disease with a loved one I truly hope you never do but if you have , you are fully aware of these facts and my heart aches for you as well. As sad as it is to say my guess is most families have had some encounter with Dementia/Alzheimer's at one time or another. Probably the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if we in our lifetime could say "We have a cure for Alzheimer's " ? I know that's my goal !!!
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
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