A Walk To End Alzheimer’s

“I miss you
Though you are near to me
I miss you
Though you’re not here for me.
I’m with you so you are not alone.
I miss you
When I go home.

I miss you
Though you seem far away.
I miss you
Though I am here each day.
It hurts me when I must say goodbye
I miss you.
Sometimes I cry.

I miss you
Though you can’t speak to me
I miss you
Though you don’t know it’s me.
And when I ask “why should this be?”
There is no answer to comfort me.

It’s sad but it’s true
It is what it is
There’s nothing more I can do.
But I’ll hope for the best
And will pray for the rest.
It’s the only thing left to do.”

– Haskell

This poem was written by a man about the love of his life. The poignant, heart-felt words describe his feelings and thoughts about his wife of 54 years and her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He sees her daily, but he misses her. He misses what used to be. He misses the smiles. He misses the conversations. He misses his wife. Haskell, like others who have experienced the pain of Alzheimer’s disease, knows that his wife is not living. Though she is alive, she only exists. Alzheimer’s has made her a shell of the person she once was.

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms tend to develop slowly and worsen over time. Eventually, daily tasks cannot be performed. Alzheimer’s is an epidemic that continues to grow. Over 5 million people in the United States currently live with this terrible disease. It is now the 6th leading cause of death in our country and it is the only cause that cannot be currently slowed. These statistics are scary. Half of Americans know someone with Alzheimer’s. I am one of those people. This epidemic, this killer, has attacked my family. It is wrecking havoc on my father’s side of my family. My aunt Gayle died from Alzheimer’s. My grandmother who suffered from a brain tumor was also believed to have Alzheimer’s. Today, I have two aunts (Roberta and Ann) who are battling this disease. Erica’s grandmother recently passed away from cancer and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Erica’s stepmother Mary Anne’s father is also battling this disease. Alzheimer’s has been, and continues to be, a pain in the ass. This week’s volunteer experience was personal.

We participated in the Walk To End Alzheimer’s hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization with the vision of a world without Alzheimer’s. It is the leading, global organization in Alzheimer’s care and support and the largest funder of Alzheimer’s research. The walk is the nation’s largest event that raises funds for care and research while enhancing awareness. We joined members of our family in Anderson to walk in support of our loved ones. Each of us carried a purple flower along the walk in remembrance of those we have lost and those who currently battle the disease. It was a beautiful morning to walk with family for family. We raised money for the cause, created awareness, and enjoyed time with family.

Every 68 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This disease has affected my family in a big way and I cannot help but ask “Who is next?” My fear is that my father is next. It has affected his mother and his sisters. Each time we sit and talk and he struggles to remember something, I worry. He is my hero and the thought of this disease destroying him is uncomfortable and unsettling. I am not ready to lose my father. We must find a cure. If we do not, my children may have to take care of me as I lose my life to Alzheimer’s. I do not want them to have to experience that pain.

We dedicate this post to Faye, Gayle, Roberta, Ann, Catherine, Audrey, and Bruce. We promise to honor, remember, care, and fight!

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