While filing away papers this weekend – I found a card i have kept stashed away for years. I cant seem to throw it away.. In 1994 – Ronald Reagan announced he had Alzheimer’s. I read it in the newspaper, and decided I should send a letter. I sent a letter to Ronald Reagan. I told him I was sorry that this was happening to him, and my grandfather also was diagnosed with this. I also told him I would pray for him, and any time he was in Texas – he and his wife were welcome to come visit my family for dinner. Thinking back on this part makes me laugh, because that was unlikely. I was 26 years old. A month or so later, my mom called and said I might want to stop by, as I received a card from the White House. I arrived at my parents house, and I received a envelope with the presidential seal on it and inside was a pre-printed thank you card from Ronald Reagan. I knew nothing about politics. I did know Alzheimer’s. My Grandfather had Alzheimer’s. My Grandfather and I used to run together when I was a was a teenager. My Grandparents took me for a month long road trip in an RV and we ran a lot during this trip – in fact we ran in Canada. When he was diagnosed, it seemed to happen so quick. Maybe this was because I was young. I remember eventually he did not know who I was and it scared me. I would avoid going over when he was there. The last time I saw him – his eyes were empty. He was not there anymore. He was not with us. He was in his own world. You see Alzheimer’s is not painful, unless you are a family member.
Fast Forward 2012 – Today my mom is living with Alzheimer’s. This disease is hereditary – and she was the unlucky one between her and her brother. Years ago – she felt like she was slipping, and snuck out and bought a gameboy with educational games and tried to keep her mind fresh to avoid this. Today, she cannot count money or tell time. Not a day goes, and I want to call her and tell her something or bitch about something – but I have to decide whether this will make her anxious, and make her condition worse. When I was going through my divorce in my first marriage, I lived with my parents for a few months, and although it was tough living with my parents again, I could talk to her or cry and she was there. She often would try to hug me, and I was so angry from the marriage failing, I would pull away. Today she is slipping away – slowly. Part of me wants to avoid, like I did with my grandfather. The other part of me just wants to hold her hand. I want to tell her its ok – I will fix your remote control again, and I will tell you what a DVD player is, and show you how it works, again. My mom is in perfect health (other than this) She likes to take walks. She LOVES to play with my son. Everyday – I miss talking to her more about anything. I miss her lectures on how I need to go to church, or how to raise my son, or deal with my ex-husband, or be nicer to Jason. I know at some point her mind will be gone. She wont be in pain. She will eventually need assistance with eating and normal daily activities and will no longer know who I am. This is on my mind daily. Its possible I might be the one out of four sisters that gets diagnosed someday, and I hope for a cure for this disease, and the pain it causes so many families like mine.
Once a week – I do try to do a longer run of 9-11 miles. Most of the time I go out to the lake. This is 25 minutes away. I could walk out my front door and run in the neighborhood. I could drive 10 minutes up the road to a park. My long runs are at the lake. I usually go with a friend. We talk for a few miles. After that – the Ipod goes on. I ran 11 miles Sunday, and tried to remember what I was thinking on my run. I was not thinking about ANYTHING. My mind goes blank. I am one with the lake. My problems are gone during these runs. Peace. Solitude. I run because I love to run, but I also run to set my mind free. For a few hours during the run – I am not hurting inside. My time. Free mind. I know eventually I have to stop and come back to reality but this time is mine for a few hours to forget on purpose.
What Happens To You On Your Run?