I woke up on The Longest Day feeling very tired and queasy. Not the start I was looking for, but my commitment to the day got me out of bed anyway!
I was still reeling from the fact that a miscommunication had prevented me from giving the presentation I was scheduled and planned for to the AKAs and sharing in their day’s activities, but Plan B was the new goal I would be carrying out.
After the tragic and hate-motivated shootings on Wednesday, I decided to begin my day at the Martin Luther King Memorial, and I stayed there alone for more than an hour, reflecting on the quotes and wondering what MLK would think and feel about the many instances of hate and injustice against African-Americans over the last couple of years in the USA. After my hour, I felt a surge of energy. I had fun taking some selfies and continued along the National Mall for a few miles. I received more than 20 comments and questions about my shirt along the way, which was very motivating!
In the US Against Alzheimer’s Facebook Support Group, I’m one of four co-moderators who give a ton of time and energy to the Facebook page providing tips, advice, articles, comfort and even some humor too. Two of them I had not met in person, though we’ve gotten very close online. That changed on The Longest Day when I met the wonderful Mara Maitlin Botonis, who was in town to receive an amazing award for all of her extraordinary work in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. We made the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental hotel feel like our living room as we hugged, shared stories and took pics. Our time together was brief, but inspiring and life-changing. Mara makes you want to do More in this life!
Then it was on to one of the best parts of the day. I picked up Mom’s best friend Mrs. Vivian Adams and together we went to get Mom for our afternoon of family togetherness. I love Mrs. Adams and consider her my second mother. She hasn’t had the greatest life, with her husband dying before his 50th birthday more than 30 years ago and her son doing everything but the right thing throughout his adult life. So Mrs. Adams has always said that being with us brings her joy! My Mom through her relationship with Mrs. Adams taught me how to be a true friend. EVERY year, Mom and I would do some activity with Mrs. Adams on both the anniversary of her husband’s death and on her birthday so she wouldn’t be sad and alone. Since Mom’s dementia diagnosis, Mrs. Adams has been front and center in our lives doing any and everything she can to help out. Yesterday was no exception. They are true friends for life.
The Longest Day is about doing activities, and the three of us (and Tim for a short while) did that in high style!! We did Tai Chi moves in front of Mom’s group home, toured our camper Memory Maker, laughed at old family photos and marveled at the amazing photos of our recent trip to Utah.
But the highlight of our afternoon together was Mom and Mrs. Adams playing with the LEGO fidget toys I made to help keep Mom’s hand busy, which could possibly cut down on her many repetitive actions. When Mom and I build together, she always uses door and window pieces saying that she’s building a home she can go to. So one of the toys I built was a small house that fits in one hand that has doors and windows that open. Mom loved it, and the other pieces too! Mrs. Adams also gave rave reviews of each of the toys! I’ll keep building pieces to determine if they’d be of help to other Alzheimer’s patients in the early to mid-stages of the disease!
We then headed to Mom’s favorite hangout, McDonald’s for a late lunch! They had a ball and we finished off our fabulous time with caramel sundaes!! While we were eating a woman who had clearly been observing us for some time commented on how wonderful a job I was doing with my Mom and that she hoped that when she needed help later in life someone would be as wonderful with her and I am with Mom. Mrs. Adams echoed her sentiments about my being an incredible daughter.
After dropping off my two favorite women I arrived home at 5pm just in time for Tim and I to head to Kendal’s 6pm recital. I was more than tired by then but I wouldn’t have missed Kendal’s recital for anything. Though Kendal was only in one dance number she was too cute, and did her own thing out there on stage!! The rest of the show was energetic and inspiring and featured every type of dance. My only regret was that it wasn’t held earlier in the day so I could have taken Mom too. Dancing and attending dance recitals was always something Mom and I did together. Unfortunately, her “sundowners” prevents me from taking her to any show that starts later than 1pm. But I cheered for Mom and myself at the end of every dance. I gave Kendal a huge hug for Mom at the end of the show!! Many people at the recital also asked me about my shirt, and shared their Alzheimer’s related stories with me.
I went to bed last night exhausted, not so much from the activities, but from the emotion tied to the entire day, but I was still able to briefly bask in what I had accomplished for The Longest Day in 2015! I know Mom was proud of me too because as we were saying our goodbyes at the end of the afternoon, Mrs. Adams pointed to me and asked Mom “what do you think of this woman?”. With a very loud voice Mom looked at me and said “I’m proud of her!!”. WOW! Does it get any better than that? When you’re up against this disease, I don’t think so and it’s a moment I’ll treasure forever!! Love you Mom!
What a backup plan you had. You are the best at making adjustments. I loved being a part of this. Keep up the great work. You have all my Love and Support.
Couldn’t have done it without a lot of help from you Tim!! Thanks for everything, especially your love and support!!! Mom may not know us, but we definitely can make her smile!! Thank God for plan B! It was an awesome day!!
Thank you, Loretta, for sharing vignettes of your Longest Day. Inspiring. And of all that you’ve written, your near to last word of your mother’s affirmation of pride in you, is most moving to and for me.
Thanks Paul for reading and responding to my blog. I was inspired throughout the day by all the support I received.
Great post, Loretta! Plan B worked out perfectly, as if it was meant to be! Mrs. Adams sounds like such a lovely woman and dear friend. You are three very blessed ladies. 🙂
How awesome that your t-shirt generated so much conversation! That’s the goal – getting people to talk about Alzheimer’s. I find that once people start talking about it, I can almost see a sense of relief wash over them. It always feels good to know that you were a part of helping them open up.
Meeting Mara on The Longest Day – incredible! So wish I’d been there. Someday we’ll make it happen though.
“With a very loud voice Mom looked at me and said “I’m proud of her!!”. WOW! Does it get any better than that?” …. Nope, it doesn’t get any better than that. I remember those moments. Pure magic. So happy for you, my friend! xo
You made my day Ann!!!! You are so right about the “relief” people find when talking about Alzheimer’s. While walking the mall I met a great family from Michigan who were having breakfast on a park bench in from of the MLK memorial. As I approached their bench, the mother of the family stood up to speak to me. She shared her story of her mom’s journey. She, her husband and her two pre-teen kids always do the Alz walks in Michigan. They all hugged me and cheered for me as I continued on my journey. I get chills just writing about it!!
And Yep there was nothing better than meeting Mara and spending the day with Mom and Mrs. Adams!! I believe Plan B was meant to be!!!!
Much love to you!!