I opened my Blackberry’s Facebook app a few moments ago, and while scrolling through my news feed, I came across the Alzheimer’s Association’s post regarding new funding for Alzheimer’s research and care giving. Fifty million dollars has been gifted to research by the current Administration and Congress for a total of $130 million gifted to the realities of Alzheimer’s patients’ needs.
My father’s mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s early in my life. My only memories of her are from her golden wedding anniversary party. By then, she was in a wheelchair and in need of assistance to do the simplest of acts. And yet my grandfather was there, with what I can only assume was the steadfast belief, that somewhere in there, his wife was still very much alive.
Like most from her generation, she was an amazing woman.
During World War II, she raised her first son for three years while my grandfather was fighting in the Atlantic Theater. When he came home from the war, she raised five other children, my father, the third amongst them.
She was a poet, a devoted Catholic, a supporter of young wives during the Vietnam War, a perpetual supporter of all academic endeavors and the Catholic Church as well. She was strong willed, independent and unwaveringly faithful in all aspects of her life, and to all of her beliefs.
While my grandfather was at work, she raised three veterans, two doctors, two lawyers, a university administrator and a logistics manager with General Mills. During Vietnam, her poetry inspired young wives waiting for their husbands, constantly watching not just for mail, but for bad news. Having seen her husband off to war, and having seen her eldest son leaving for Vietnam in 1968, she knew well what they were going through and never closed her door.
Her poetry still sits within her children’s homes. There is one which was placed in my parent’s dining room long ago, which I particularly remember, and it reads, “Dear Lord, Although I try and try, my halo slipped beneath my eyes. Please take it back, and mend it for a better fit.”
Alzheimer’s created a barrier between she and I, but not before she took care of all others within her reach, while leaving a standard, not just for women to follow, but for all of us to follow.
The truth of the matter is, we have only begun to scratch the surface of this disease in any meaningful manner. There are very few causes as in need of $50 million for research and $130 million in aid funds. AIDS and cancer come to mind, yet, it is far past due, that we invest in ensuring that our loved ones are not lost to a cause we have, as of yet, not paid enough attention to.