Alzheimer’s family and patients

Dawn Reed

I hate Alzheimer’s. In many ways I think it’s worse than cancer. It effects every family at some point. It’s beyond heart-breaking. My grandmother had it for years and years. I remember the explanation decades ago but not the name. I can’t remember hearing the word “Alzheimer’s” until years later. My grandmother’s “brain cells were shrinking”-that’s what they told me. I didn’t understand what was causing it and had no clue what was to come.

I didn’t Google statistics about the disease to share. To be honest, my eyes are filling with tears this very moment. I don’t want to know right now how many have it, are showing signs of it, or are likely to get it. I don’t fear dying so much. Alzheimer’s is my concern.

We were watching a show recently about Glen Campbell, a famous country singer. I knew lots of the old songs he did when I was growing up. I DID NOT want to watch it but my beloved thought it would interesting. It was sweet yet painful. I cried a few times. After the show ended my beloved turned to me, cupped my face in his hands and said, “Even if you get Alzheimer’s I will still love you and take care of you.” I sobbed. And now am again.

On Saturday, a large crowd gathered at the Prestonsburg City Stage to walk for Alzheimer’s Awareness. It was the first Tropical Isle Tanning & Fit-Tagious Jog Your Memory 5K in Prestonsburg.

I thought it would be a piece of cake. I walk several times a week at a fast pace. My daughter and I do a couple of these a year. I’m in pretty good shape. Cake. That’s what I thought.

I decided to forgo the stretching before the race. Everybody else looked cool doing it but I figured I’d fall. I bounced up and down on my toes trying not to drawn any attention. Everybody else had on cool stretchy clothes and head bands. I had on my coat. (I walk in it every time. It has a pocket for my cell phone-in case I need to text someone something funny. There’s a pocket for my tissues-my nose always runs. I had gloves in my pockets, too, but was embarrassed to get them out though my fingers were numb.)

The signal was given and the runners and walkers took off. We were at a good pace. (It takes a bit in a crowd to find your spot.) I passed a few people and came upon a lady carrying a baby in a…a…holder of some sort. She had the baby mounted on her and she was walking right on. Holy smokes! She was amazing! Forget Lynda Carter! Wonder Woman was right here in P’burg!

Our course made turn after turn through downtown and then crossed the road where the nice firemen were blocking traffic for our safe passage. I was over a mile into the race when my hip started hurting. (I had hip replacement surgery five years ago this month and have been blessed beyond measure with the results. I’ve had no problems whatsoever!) I was concerned about what to do. Should I quit the race? Was it serious? Would more walking cause more problems? (My brain was working as fast as my feet.) I kept going.

We were almost at the high school and I wanted to quit. I was tired, my hip was bothering me and I was cold. I should’ve worn a hat! My friend Sabrina passed me on her way back and I yelled, “Send the card back!” I didn’t know if I was kidding or not.

At the high school we headed down the sidewalk to Food City. FOOD CITY?! Good grief! I thought. That seemed like ten more miles! I groaned inside and kept walking. Suddenly I could smell pork! I hoped Pig in a Poke had a pork table outside instead of a water table! It was not to be. I passed the restaurant inhaling deeply, and then turned around at Food City.

My cell phone went off. It was my beloved. “Do you need me to come and get you?” he asked in a sweet voice. (Sabrina told him what I said when she crossed the finish line!) “No, not now, but I almost called you for a ride earlier!” I told him.

The race was hard and I was hurting. I was cold and tired and wanted to quit, but I just couldn’t. I thought of those I have loved who had Alzheimer’s, people who take care of Alzheimer’s family and patients. I would not quit for them! I pressed on.

Life is just plain hard sometimes and sometimes often. If it’s not because of Alzheimer’s, it’s cancer, or MS, financial crisis, divorce, loved one’s with drug addictions, pre-teen and teen-aged daughters full of … full of…drama, hormones, etc. Life can be so hard!

Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…”

We can’t quit; we won’t quit. We’ll pull ourselves up by our Spandex leggings and march right on like Harriet Tubman headed to Canada! And we don’t have to do it alone! God will help us. He will give us strength and He puts others in our lives to help as well. Trying to make it all on our own makes life even harder!

“Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” That’s a verse to keep!

Dawn Reed Reed
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