Saturday, our family continued the tradition that we have observed for the past four years. On Oct 17th, we walked to end Alzheimer’s. This cruel disease has marked itself in my family over and over and over again. I’ve seen family members who raised me suddenly not remember my name. I have seen them forget to eat, to walk, to talk. I’ve watched them deteriorate and watched muscles atrophy. Then, when I thought that my heart wouldn’t take any more, I watched them smile, have an amazing moment of lucidity, and soon after return to Heaven to meet God there.
When my great-grandmother was diagnosed, I was convinced she wouldn’t deteriorate rapidly. This was a strong woman. She was the backbone for everything and everyone. There was no way this disease would claim her. But this disease did what it does best–destroyed–and soon, she was internal to herself. I started walking for a cure then.
The reason I walk…
Saturday morning, we all donned our purple and drove an hour away to stand in freezing temperatures and walk with others who shared our plight. We were late arriving this year and I missed the annual trek to the table to collect the colored flowers to reflect the loss of my great-grandmother and the fight that my relatives are currently enduring. I was heartbroken about that. This is a ritual we’ve done as a family over and over again, one that never gets old. One that I hated I would miss out on.
We’d arrived just as the walk began. FatherWinter, Superburg, and I hustled in line with the other walkers and began the pilgrimage that is our walk. Three miles later, we crossed the pavilions steps signaling another successfully completed walk. I was certain Mama was in Heaven aware that we were still walking every year just for her. May it one day not be necessary to walk at all.
A sea of purple all supporting an awesome cause
The social media campaign for the walk asked why do I walk. I walk for this moment. I walk for my great-grandmother. I walk for my great-aunts. I walk for children and grandchildren. I walk so that they won’t have to. I walk to show my son so that he knows the importance of this movement. I walk because one day there will be a cure and I want to know that the steps I made contributed in some small way.
#ENDALZ is so much more than a social media hashtag. It’s my war cry. It will be song well until the walk is over. Let’s find a cure.