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.
As I write this at 2:00 am I am overwhelmed with emotion. We have spent the entire day at doctor’s offices and a trip to the hospital because my father crushed his finger this morning in the car door when we got to daycare. So anxious to get in to see his new friends, he didn’t pay attention to what he was doing. He crushed the tip of his finger, lost his fingernail and had a dozen or so stitches. Bandaged up we left the doctor’s office to have him pull the bandage off in less than 10 minutes. Back for another bandage that didn’t even last an hour. So to the emergency room we went because it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Thankfully they put his finger in a splint so that he can’t remove the bandage.
We walk in honor of my mom (Nana) who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s three years ago at the age of 49.
I walk in honor of my wife, Sharon, who was stricken with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2007. Her mother and a mother’s brother died from this rare form of dementia that robs active, productive people of their memory and abilities as young as their forties— or even earlier.
I walk for all the husbands who, like me, are loving and caring for their wives who will never be the same. Together, we Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and individually, each of us is on a personal walk with this disease every day. My journey has taught me many things — mostly patience. Patience forContinue reading “Why I Walk Wednesday with Hank Redman”