There’s just something about Chicago!! I’ve been there three times now on my “Being My Mom’s Mom” book tour! They love me and the mission I’m on, to bring awareness and find a cure for this horrific disease and I love them back. I was a little worried about this trip, primarily because Tim didn’t going with me to keep me company and drive me around, and because I was supposed to do two presentations a day and would be changing hotels each day too. It was quite the eventful trip, but I never let it deter my mission. After working ten hours in DC on Monday before flying to Chicago, I arrived at the Residence Inn at 9:45pm. All I wanted to do was to get to my room and go to bed. BUT that was delayed when I got to my room and my key card didn’t work. Being a security person, I was quite uncomfortable standing outside in the open with my luggage, but my car was parked far away from my room. After about 20 minutes, and Tim staying on the phone with me, the security guy arrived to let me in. After two great presentations in the morning and evening, I stayed Tuesday night at a fancy Renaissance hotel which was experiencing a computer issue that caused, you guessed it, some of the key cards not to work… Yikes!!! I only had to come and go twice, and luckily someone came immediately to let me into my room. I got to know the front desk staff fairly well in my 20 hours there, and the desk clerk even purchased a book!! After I had checked out on Wednesday morning, I got almost to my rental car and realized I didn’t have my car key. That meant I had to go back and ask to be let into my room again to search for it. I remembered that something had hit the floor when I moved my phone that morning, but when I looked down I didn’t see anything. It had to have been my key. I did indeed find the single key under my bed. I jumped in the car and hurried to my first presentation on Wednesday.
When I got to the location right before 8am, I could tell something was wrong. There were very few cars in the parking lot and the front door was locked. Turns out that the presentation had been cancelled due to low enrollment and no one had notified me. I was sad, and very bewildered that no one had let me know in advance, as was my Arden Courts travel contact in Rockville, MD. But I moved on, and drove to the next location which was an hour away. I was able to get to my hotel and had the entire day to myself before my presentation at 5:30pm. I spent the time working on LEGO strategy and building a few models. I enjoyed the free breakfast at the hotel and never left my room. The presentation on Wednesday evening was incredible. Not an overwhelmingly large crowd, but very lively. Dinner with them was as great as the presentation. Arden Courts is owned by Manor Care nursing homes, and a woman from one of their nearby locations was in attendance. She was so blown away by my presentation, she hired me on the spot to give several presentations for Manor Care. She said of all the dementia presentations she’d been to, she’d never been to one as “emotionally real” as mine. I was thrilled.
Better still, a woman who is a Vice President for Easter Seals in VA was in the process of moving her mom into the Arden Courts facility where I was speaking. She heard so many compliments about me that she came down the hall to chat with me about doing dementia and LEGO presentations for her groups in VA. What a night!! Spreading the word continues!! On Wednesday night I didn’t sleep well at all, so I had planned on sleeping in on Thursday morning since my first presentation wasn’t until 11:30am. That all changed at 5:20am when the hotel fire alarm went off. I never take chances with emergencies, so as I already had on my workout clothes, I opened the door to my room and immediately smelled something electrical burning!! I grabbed my briefcase and phone and hurried to the parking lot with lots of other guests. Four fire trucks arrived in short order and hurried into the hotel. I was hoping all would be well so that I wouldn’t have to give my presentation in my workout clothes as opposed to the purple dress I intended to wear. All was well after the emergency, so the day continued on.
There was no going back to sleep at that point, so I worked out for an hour in the hotel gym. After the workout, I was ready for my last two presentations of the trip. When I got to the South Holland location, I not only got a great welcome back from the staff, but I immediately noticed that five of the attendees were also there last year!! It’s a good thing that I update my presentations often. One gentleman was very upset that Tim hadn’t come with me this trip, but he said he wouldn’t miss the chance to see me again!! WOW!! Not only was that group awesome, but so was the night group! Several of them had also seen me last year!! One of them brought four friends who had been impacted by dementia in the last 6 months. I was truly amazed, and humbled. I received more email by Thursday than I have on any previous trips from people who were very touched by my presentations. The more I can touch people who are impacted by this disease, the happier I am. Several people said they were were most touched by the LEGO fidget toys I had made for my Mom to keep her hands busy. You can see by Mom’s smiles in the photos how much she likes the toys! One woman who attended the night session said she still had some of her kid’s LEGOs at home and was going to bring them to Arden Courts and sit at the bistro cafe with her mom to see if she liked them as well. The cafe is one of the coolest places in all of Arden Courts.
On Friday morning, I was thrilled to head home after such a LONG week on the road!! Tim of course was there to pick me up, and we celebrated my homecoming by having a late lunch in southern Maryland on Cobb Island!! I thought I’d wake up today tired and just wanting to do nothing, but we worked out for 45 minutes in the park, and Tim graciously helped me with a dry run of an upcoming LEGO class! It’s been an amazing week, and I can honestly say I did all I could in the fight against Alzheimer’s! Let’s see what I can come up with for next week!! Anything for my Mom!