Mom was everything you could ask for in a mother. But she was so much more than that. We were a team from day. She was my teacher, my juror, my proofreader, my patron of the arts supporting my creative impulses. We share many qualities, but she was also the yin to my yang. The preparation to to my procrastination. The order to my affinity for a little dose of chaos. She was the sense to my dreams, and her many dreams became my reality. I am everything I am because of you, Mom. You have given me everything I need.
And with that reminder, I want to make sure everyone understands that Ana’s work is not done. Alzheimer’s put a pause on her service in some ways. She was officially diagnosed a little over 7 years ago. Having noticed the signs and being the ever-talented planner that she was, she pulled in her teammate to start figuring it all out. We were quiet about it, but we fought hard. No question, ALZ is a cruel disease - in mom’s case, tackling one of her most powerful weapons - her mind. Ironically, her recurring, steadfast words of wisdom to me were, “Your knowledge is your power. No one can take away the things you know.”
But like all things in life, there are many sides to even the worst things. It’s a worthy reminder for all of us in these polarized times. In the middle years of her illness - she eventually forgot she had it. I found that the disease actually eased her stress and made her more carefree. Those that worked with her knew how she could wield that Ana Sarasti intensity - an intensity and will to fight that most certainly reared its head again, particularly in her final days. A few nurses and aides came face-to-face with Ana’s stubbornness while trying to get her to do things she didn’t want to do. But in the middle years, she was able to throw more and more caution to the wind. Ultimately, it wasn’t just her mind powering her forward. It was her heart and her spirit. Her joy. Her endless love. Even in her last few days, she always knew it was me and called me by my name (or "Viejito").
In her honor, make a contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association. Last year, I teamed up with my dear friends in the Sotelo family to create Team Ana. Ana Sotelo and her family have also courageously fought ALZ.
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
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