Today I joined approximately two thousand people in Columbia, South Carolina, on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. I was accompanied by daughters, Sheri and Sandra, and grandchildren, Emily and Michael.
The organizers asked me to speak on behalf of those who have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Our daughter taped the speech which you can access at the end of this post:
Below is what I said:
Ten years ago, my wife and I sat in the doctor’s office at Duke University Medical Center awaiting the results of their evaluation of Linda’s cognitive functioning. Then came the dreaded news: Dementia, Frontotemperal Dementia.
On that cold, rainy November day, we embarked on a treacherous journey. Every aspect of our lives changed as we adapted to the realty of perpetual loss and relentless grieving. I retired from a treasured faculty position. We moved to SC to be near our daughters and their families. Everything changed—finances, relationships, activities, abilities.
But one reality remained constant: LOVE!
Three weeks ago, October 3, Linda’s struggle ended. She died peacefully in our home. Though I am grateful that her long struggle with the terrible disease has ended and she is at peace, I miss her presence terribly. After 58 years of marriage, I am now adjusting to the new reality of her absence. Yet, I will never be without her, since we are never totally separated from those with whom our lives are intertwined in the bond of covenantal love.
Her spirit will be with me every step of this walk!
I am walking today to —
- remove the stigma of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
- assure those with dementia: “You are not forgotten. Though you may forget, we will remember.”
- affirm that we are more than our brains or capacities: we have inherent worth and dignity
- declare to caregivers: “You are valued! You are not alone! We are in this together!”
- advocate for governmental support for research, treatment, and financial support for the healthcare crisis Alzheimer’s represents
- commit to do all I can to end Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia so that my daughters and grandchildren will not fear that they will have to endure these dreaded diseases.
So, let us walk together, work together, grieve together, and GIVE TOGETHER so that together we can END ALZHEIMER’S!