Aces for Alzheimer’s, doubles tennis tournament, raises over a $1000 for The Longest Day.
Earlier this year, my mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 52.
I don’t think I’ll ever again feel the feeling that I did when I received the news. Just a simple phone call and my body went numb. I felt like the Earth had dropped from beneath me. There was no way that it was true.
My husband Tom was a manager of Reynolds Metal in Phoenix Arizona. He had an easy nature, loved to play golf and after he retired would often play 18 holes in the morning and then again in the afternoon.
I have to say this has been one of the hardest stories I have ever had to write but its the easiest decision at least for me. My grandmother has always been the foundation of our family and it was hard for me to watch all of her memories slowly slip away.
I walk for my mother, Astrid (“Ozzie”) who is currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. I walk with my father, Rick, my sister, Lisa, and my wife, Melissa, who have all accepted their caregiver role and fulfilled its tasks very diligently.
I walk for my Dad, Richard, who is also one of my best friends. He and I have always had a close relationship and enjoyed doing things together (i.e. woodworking classes, church outings, working in his shop, etc). He is 88 years old and was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 10 years ago. After his diagnosis, we still spent a lot of time together, as I was trying to make his life as normal as possible.
The reason why I walk can all be summed up in this one picture. My father started showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s right before my 18th birthday in January 2008 at the age of 59.
For years, I’ve been watching Alzheimer’s take away someone very special to me. Grandma O’Neil is the women who taught me how to sass like no other and to dance like no one is watching. A hard-working woman who did everything she could to support her family, she is the reason I am volunteering and walking to end this terrible disease.
My dad exemplified loving kindness and generosity. His love for our mom and four children taught us to value life by treating others with respect and dignity.
I walk for my father, Birch and for my sons, Forest and Randolph.