You never know when you meet someone how pivotal that meeting may become in your life. My life changed forever during an Aging seminar and trade show in May of 2013 when I met Julie-Boone Roth, the marketing director for the Silver Spring, Maryland location of the Arden Courts Memory Care Community. Little did I know that Julie would love the free copy I gave her of my book so much that she not only invited me to speak at her facility, she also recommended that the book be placed in the company’s national warehouse. When the book was unanimously approved by the board of reviewers in January of 2014 to be included in the warehouse, it became available to all locations of the chain and invitations to speak at Arden Courts Communities began arriving almost immediately. Their first book order was for 500 of my books and they made two additional purchases as well.
Eighteen months ago in April of 2014, I began the journey of speaking at more than 40 locations of Arden Courts throughout the U.S. This was no easy feat to accomplish given that I’m a full time contractor for the Dept of Homeland Security, I teach online for two Universities and was just starting to get my LEGO class business up and running. My superiors at DHS couldn’t have been more supportive of my journey around the U.S. to speak about my Mom and our journey with her dementia. They allowed me to alter my schedule in multiple ways, including being gone for days at a time. Upon my return they always wanted to hear about my latest journey and thankfully my work production never suffered.
My journey took me throughout Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey and to Chicago, Cincinati, Dallas, Detroit and even Naples, Florida. I’ve given more than 90 presentations at Arden Courts including three different multiple-day trips to the Chicago suburbs and two trips to Dallas. Some of those presentations led to more than 20 additional presentations for other organizations. Last night in Arlington, Texas (right outside of Dallas) I gave my last scheduled presentation for Arden Courts.
To say it’s been an amazing eighteen months would be an understatement!! I’ve shared my Mom and family with hundreds of people and shared lots of food, tears and laughter with my audiences. I’ve made more friends than I can count and have received hundreds of emails from folks thanking me for sharing my journey and for my energy and positive spirit. Many of the emails brought me to tears!
As I reflected on my Arden Courts experiences in my hotel room last night, several memories flashed through my mind…..
Two of the presentations in Cincinati and Naples were done jointly with Arden Courts and the Alzheimer’s Association and both of those were held in beautiful huge churches and added even more of a spiritual nature to the events!
Though all of the presentations ended on time and were followed by a book signing, I spent countless extra hours hanging out with attendees and Arden Courts staff members because people were “so moved” by all we had shared together that they didn’t want to leave.
What was all-time favorite event and place and who was my favorite person during the eighteen months?
Event – May 2014 in South Holland, Illinois that was so well attended that there was standing room only and required valet parking. Some of them returned to hear me again this year! Wow!!
Person – My favorite person wasn’t an attendee or staff member, it was an Arden Courts resident who threw a huge fit outside of the meeting room because staff wouldn’t let her attend. After the event she and I shared cookies and she confessed that she wanted to come into the room just to see if “I knew what I was talking about”. She was priceless and I think of her often!! In spite of her Alzheimer’s she was quite a special woman. I even wrote a blog just about her!!
Place – Naples wins for the beach I got to spend time on after the event, but Chicago wins overall because they loved me so much they had me come three different times. On the first trip in May of 2014 Tim went too and we had a marvelous time sightseeing!!
Last night’s ending in Texas couldn’t have been better!! There was a fabulous pasta dinner,with salad, breadsticks, tiramisu for dessert and even wine!!
Though I couldn’t eat during the event, the staff packed a huge bag of food for me to take back to the hotel, including wine!!
I wanted to call my Mom so badly last night to say “Mom we’ve done a great service for Arden Courts by speaking about this horrible disease, and have touched so many lives. I couldn’t have done it without being the person you raised me to be.”
I can’t have that conversation with her because she clearly wouldn’t understand, but what I have done is to donate half of my earnings from my Arden Courts speaking events and book sales in my Mom’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association. She’d be so proud! Thank you Julie and Arden Courts!! I move on to my next journey gratified by the fact that I dedicated all of the success of the last Eighteen Months for Mom!!
Wonderful, Loretta. On every count and in every way. Your reflections. Wonderful. Your insights. Wonderful. You. Wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thanks Paul!!!!! I really appreciate it!! It’s really been an amazing 18 months!! You’ve read all my blogs so you’ve been a big part of it. I remember that you loved the woman and the cookies story!! So you’re pretty wonderful too for being part of the journey with me both in spirit and in your support!! Thank you!!