Why I Walk Wednesday with JoAnne Coniglio

26 Oct

why-i-walk-wednesday_joanneconiglio

His Voice

I am writing this on behalf of my brother Revell Milliner. He was often too shy to use his voice. He cannot speak today because a dementia-like illness took his life in 2007. His disease lasted about seven years. When we were children our parents often sent both
of us to the little country store down the street from our house to pick up necessary items like Maxwell House coffee. They knew he was too shy to ask for items by name, and they knew that his little sister was not too shy to say anything. They could count on him to patiently control his rambunctious little sister if she would just be his voice.

He was not always comfortable speaking but he could speak to nature with love and compassion like no one I have ever known. He frequently brought home injured animals that he found on the farm or in the woods. He was hunting and fishing at a young age. What I remember most about what he brought home from those hunting trips were injured animals . One was a fox that had been caught in a trap. He kept it in a cage in the back yard until its leg was healed enough to let it go back to the wild. I also remember the crow with the injured wing, that he nursed back to health. I’m sure that the same crow returned to our house often over the years.

As and adult he worked many long hours, but he was always happiest when he was out in nature. He spent many hours in his 3-acre garden raising the most delicious strawberries and Hayman potatoes. He even had a fox that would show up most nights to eat yogurt with strawberries that my brother would feed her from a spoon. Some of his favorite hobbies were to duck hunt, fish and clam in Metompkin Bay. He could talk for hours with his friends and family. One gift he gave our children was the gift of imagination. Fairies, Santa and any magical creature became alive in his vivid tales of their adventures. About mid-way through his illness we tried to take him out in his boat on Metompkin Bay, it was devastating to watch the fear in his eyes because he was so afraid of the trip. I held his hand and tried to help him remember the past.

We watched him lose the ability to work, to garden, to hunt, to fish and to key-hole clams like no other. We watched him lose the ability to speak even to his family and nature. We watched him lose the ability to take care of himself. I held his hand all day the day he died and told him it was all okay and that he would again be able to walk in nature again and breath in the salt air.

Just the other night I dreamed that my brother was still alive and getting healthier because there was a new drug that had been developed that could gradually reverse the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. I woke up with such excitement!!!

Two years ago, our daughter had a son and named him Revell. My hope and prayer is that through the work and support of the Alzheimer’s Association a drug will be developed in this young Revell’s lifetime.

I hope Revell’s voice speaks to us all to encourage us to support the Alzheimer’s Association and its work!

You can support the Alzheimer’s Association by donating to a Walk team or an individual walker by going to alz.org/walk 

Get more stories like these and up to date information on Alzheimer’s disease in your inbox by subscribing to the Alzheimer’s Association weekly E-News.

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