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Gayle Nichol's picture

Step review for Alzheimer Walk

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 12:23 -- Gayle Nichol

Snap, crackle, pop!

There has been a lot of activity in the last few months. And as we gear up to the last few weeks before IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s it’s time for a quick review.

Coincidentally, my dad, one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known, just celebrated his birthday and was doing a bit of a review of his own. The way Alzheimer’s disease attacks the brain makes this review more difficult for dad. But surrounded by his wife, his children and grandchildren who were all celebrating with his choice of pizza and Global donuts imported from his favourite donut shop in Sarnia, dad inevitably begins.

These reviews are pretty typical for dad now, not just reserved for birthdays. After shaking hands with his oldest son, who has to introduce himself to dad each time they meet, dad begins to untangle the connection to all of these faces who call him by such familiar terms as “dad” and “grandpa”. I always hold my breath during this part, stealing myself for what is no longer there.

How ironic that each person in this room would not be present without the life this man has lived, and yet he strains to reach each relevant detail that reveals who we are.

That is the cruel thievery that Alzheimer’s trades in.

Munching on pizza he remembers his mother to me, eventually overcome by emotion at how much he misses her, and how she was taken too soon. Then he immediately perks up to request a second donut.

Mom, exhausted from the daily grind that caretakers across the globe know so intimately, moves away to take some respite while the generations are present to swoop in and take over for a few hours. But even in these moments when she can move into another room and see some new faces, she is consumed by the talk that revolves around his world. Even in the limited time and distance from dad, she is catching everyone up on new or progressive behaviours that let us know there is no retreat for this disease, despite the voracious fight that dad is putting up to hold on to who he is. Who he was.

My daily life is not consumed by father’s decline. Not the way mom’s is. I live an hour away, and don’t deal with the daily irritants of removing tissue boxes from refrigerator shelves, or helping him find the bathroom in the house he’s lived in for 15 years. I do what I can. That’s what we all do as the circle widens.

So when I was asked to participate in the  Alzheimer Walk, I joined that circle. I want to help families like mine with supports that make life manageable for men and women living with Alzheimer’s, and for their families whose lives are so altered that they need the supports provided by the Alzheimer Society of Sarnia Lambton.

I get it.

Alzheimer’s isn’t as sexy as some of the many worthy causes we’re called on to support through action and dollars.

But it is a show of respect. Those living with the disease now, were once the organizers of hockey tournaments, founders of industry, shift supervisors, church leaders, community organization presidents, teachers, mentors, schoolyard monitors. Yesterday, the foundations of our community – today they need us to remember who they once were.

You can help honour them.

Oh, and that snap, crackle pop? My team has raised almost $1,000 just from selling rice krispy treats. Because everyone loves the comfortable memories that crunchy, vanilla goodness brings. Please find your way to contribute.

The IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s Sarnia takes place at Centennial Park, on Sunday, May 26. Sign up and donate online at www.alzgiving.ca

 

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