My why is for my mother, MaeHelen. I know how hard it is to take care of a person with Alzheimer’s and Dementia because I first saw it with my grandfather. When the disease made it impossible for him to live alone, the man we lovingly referred to as Big Daddy, lived with us until he passed from the disease in 1992. We learned quickly how difficult life can be as a caregiver to someone you love; to witness the forgetfulness; the fear and confusion you see in their eyes and sometimes even the anger that is directed towards the person doing the most for them. My mom treated him with love and patience, even when he packed a suitcase (with some of her things) and jumped out of the bedroom window.
Now, we are on that same journey with my momma. Initially, I was hesitant to say it aloud to anyone outside of my family (on my part because I don’t want that to be the focus). It is an evil disease that robs you of that person who raised you and your siblings with such strength. We watched her go to school at night so that we had a better life, achieving three degrees while working as a crossing guard for the City of Chicago. She even traveled the world and held an audience with Nelson Mandela (this was always one of her fondest stories to tell that her memory no longer retains). She taught us the importance of giving back; food pantries, feeding the homeless, and volunteering in our community. She even helped to raise some of our friends, opening her home up to anyone who needed a hug, a hot meal, or a place to stay.
My mom comes to my home here in Indy three months out of the year, and with each visit, I struggle with my emotions. I miss her friendship and laughter; we spend most of the month convincing her that she is safe and watching her pack and unpack her suitcase. I am grateful for my sisterand her willingness to do for my mom what she did for her father. For every meal cooked, for every mean word when she doesn’t remember that you love her, for keeping her safe when she wants to leave the house. Being a caregiver is isolating and lonely and it is a thankless job. It doesn’t get any better. There is no cure for my mom.
During the Week of Caring, I made calls to donors, thanking them for their support and the partnership that will help us bring an end to this disease. I donate my time and will walk this year to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support and research.
We have raised