PURPOSE…I am nearly 50 and have spent much of my life searching for my purpose…why did God put me here? I have come to the conclusion that we all have gifts and it’s our purpose to discover how these gifts can best benefit others, recognizing that their use will change throughout our lives.
I am a daughter, mother, grandmother, wife. I have had different roles as a Christian, student, confidant, cheerleader, friend, organizer, caregiver, advocate and too many more to list.
I am weak, but I am a fighter. It is in recognizing my weaknesses that I have been able to tap into the need to never give up, to fight. I have dealt with death, loss, abuse and sorrow but faith has given me the strength to find the joy in the dawn and the promise that tomorrow will be better.
I believe I get this from my mother. She never realized she was a fighter, but she was from a young age. My mother comes from a strong Catholic family, faith was their rock. Her father worked hard but was sick at home in most of her childhood memories. With a 9year gap to her siblings, by the 1940’s her sister was married and gone, both of her brothers went off to fight in WWII before she was 10, leaving her at home.
Her mother (my grandmother), Marie, had always been strong, managing their corner store, caring for 4 children and eventually her husband when he became bed confined. They sold the store and planned to move, but two weeks before the move in 1946, her husband died (Marie was 47). Losing your father at age 11 is a lot to bear, but as my mother entered her teen years there were signs Marie was slowly changing and the family would begin to need my mother to become the woman of the house as Marie was being lost to Alzheimer’s.
Marie started out forgetting small things and so my mother at 16 would go to work and come home at lunch to make sure her mother had a meal and was OK. There was never a complaint, only love and caring and patience. But, when Marie was getting lost in their own neighborhood, before my mother was out of high school, Marie was placed in a home. Not technically an orphan, but Marie’s slow decline as Alzheimer’s took over was surely a lingering death and a loss no young person should endure. Her brother, now “parent”, made sure my mother had a college education but all the time my mother would visit Marie, her mother and rock, now watching as she forgot her baby girl, declined to diapers and her life eventually ending in 1959 covered in bed sores weighing 88lbs when my mother was 23.
Even today, at age 83, my mother can recall so vividly the visits to see Marie in her last months like it was yesterday. She will share some details, but as tears and anguish begin to emerge, she will typically stop herself. Rather than wallow in grief, she will change the subject to a fun childhood memory. Choosing to recall her short time with her mother as loving and joyful.
Alzheimer’s has framed my life and what I know to be true strength. It is in the caregivers who love and lose their family and friends so incrementally over time that death becomes bitter sweet.
For my grandmother and my mother I am running TOUGH MUDDER May 19, 2018 for the benefit of Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. My mother brought out my gift of “fight” throughout my life and right now my PURPOSE is to run this event to raise money for AFA, for Marie and the millions afflicted today. For anyone you know who is struggling with this disease, or even if you’re praying this does not affect your family, don’t just pray, please donate to AFA and let’s FIGHT together.
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