Alzheimer Society Walk For Memories 2011
Every year in May, my family and I participate in the Alzheimer’s Society Walk For Memories. We walk to support the individuals and families who are affected by this devastating disease. We walk for our own reasons too.
My Grandpa was one of the best men in the world. This is not an exaggeration. He used to walk my sisters and me wherever we wanted to go, usually the park. He would watch and wait, watch and wait. It felt like we spent hours there and I don’t ever remember him telling us we had to leave.
He did whatever it took to make us girls happy. He had endless patience.
He served his country as a Flight Lieutenant in World War II. He flew 37 missions as a Navigator over enemy territory and he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for showing courage and completing his service. He provided for his family and took excellent care of his grandchildren.
FORGET ME NOT
I remember when the sadness started. One day I overheard my parents talking and their tone seemed to be filled with worry. My Grandpa, who loved his long walks, had gone missing. He left one afternoon for his stroll and never came back. He was later found by a nice couple who called the police and got him home safely. He couldn’t remember how to get home.
I think this happened a few more times. I remember when the decision was made to place him in a home. He was sent to live at Parkwood Hospital.
We were lucky to have a place that we could trust to care for my Grandpa. I asked why he was going and I was told. It’s not something I wanted to hear because he was my hero.
I heard of a night that he got up and ate a banana. Being the clean and thorough man that he was, he peeled the banana and placed the skin in the garbage. After finishing one banana he had another and another because he couldn’t remember eating the one prior.
When I went to visit him at the hospital my heart broke. We were very close and spent so much of my childhood together, but now he didn’t know my name. He just referred to me as ‘dear’. He knew he loved me and recognized my sad, childlike face but didn’t know my name.
I was only 15 at the time and too young to know regret. I started avoiding the visits. Coming up with excuses as to why I couldn’t go. It was so hard for me to see my Grandpa suffering like this and so hard to see this man change into a stranger.
A number of years later we had to watch my Grandma go through the same transition. Sadly I was prepared and had experience with this. I had tough skin this time around. I would visit on my own because I could handle it. Then she would ask me the same questions each visit and multiple times in the same visit.
I stopped going by myself and needed my parents to accompany me perhaps for support or maybe distraction. I started going less and less, my heart breaking each time.
My Grandma passed away last year and honestly I am happy for her. She is free of this debilitating disease and she is with my Grandpa now. Both in a far better place I am sure.
I have painted this picture today to draw focus to the import role the Alzheimer’s Society plays in our community. With an estimated 185,000 Ontarians living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, the Manulife Walk For Memories plays a critical role in supporting individuals and their families facing this disease.
PARTICIPATE IN THE CAUSE
The Alzheimer Society of London & Middlesex Walk For Memories is Saturday May 14, 2011 at Springbank Park. Click on the link below to register as an individual or as part of a team.
SUPPORT THE CAUSE
You can also support me in the 2011 Walk For Memories by clicking on this link and donating towards my fundraising goal.
This year I have a personal goal of raising $250 towards my family’s overall goal of $1000. The smallest amount to the largest amount are equally appreciated.