My Aunt Jean was a loving, intelligent, and articulate lady. She was a wonderful example of the beauty and character a woman can impart to her family, friends, and community. She spent her professional life guiding and instructing elementary children as a 2nd grade teacher. She loved to read and learn. She loved sports and being active. She loved her family and to keep in touch with written letters and cards. Her letters were the first hint for me that Aunt Jean was afflicted with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in her 60’s.
Words started to fail this lady who had always had perfect spelling and grammar. Early on, she covered up the failing vocabulary, but as the holes in her sentences became larger and larger, she was unable to disguise the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s. The disease robbed Aunt Jean of her eloquence first, but slowly and painstakingly it stole her from our family. We said our final Goodbye in 2000 at her funeral, but the ‘neverending goodbye’ created by the process of Alzheimer’s had been years in the making.
In 2006, I began volunteering with the Quincy area Alzheimer’s Association. As helpless as I had felt during Aunt Jean’s illness, I felt hopeful when I became involved in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I could honor Aunt Jean’s memory by supporting other families struggling with the effects of Alzheimer’s. Celebrating her life reminds me of her love and her impact on my life plus it makes a positive difference in our community. I’ll be walking again this year on Thursday, September 4th in Clat Adams Park.
Consider healing your heart by supporting a cause that is special for you and your family. You may find that by giving to others, you experience joy too.