Yesterday I walked in Georgia’s Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk To End Alzheimer’s. My family and the Jones family joined to form the Family Caregivers Team. Pictured here is seven of our twelve team members. Together we were able to raise $2,500 dollars for Alzheimer’s research. Both of our families have lost loved ones to Alzheimer’s disease so we know first hand how important it is to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.
In the picture above and below, you see us holding flowers we were given at sign-in. There were three categories of flowers: yellow flowers if we were walking in support of someone with Alzheimer’s, purple flowers if we were walking in memory of someone who had died from Alzheimer’s and blue flowers if we had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
During the Opening Ceremonies we were asked to raise our flowers if we had Alzheimer’s; raise our flowers if a loved one had died from Alzheimer’s; and raise our flower if we care for or had cared for someone with Alzheimer’s. Almost every flower was raised for those who had taken care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. It was a very emotional and eye opening moment. Thousands of purple and yellow flowers raised in the air. YET, so many people in this country have no idea what it means to take care of someone with this dreadful disease.
People of all ages participated in the Walk - babies in infant carriers and strollers and young children walking beside their parents; tweens and teens, college sororities and fraternities, young adults and not so young adults. Everyone had gathered for the Walk To End Alzheimer’s. As I looked around at some of us (myself included) who were overweight, it was quite apparent to me that we did not walk regularly and would probably have to take an Epsom salt bath when we got home. But the aches and pains didn’t matter, we wanted to support this very important cause.
This gentleman was quite an inspiration for me. Can you see his walker in the picture? By the time I took this picture we had walked about three quarters of a mile and we were on an uphill slope. This man had a caregiver with him who is off to the side but close enough should he need assistance. I don’t know if he walked the mile and a half track or the three mile track. I was just impressed that he participated.
It has been almost a year since I blogged. After Gladys passed, I just couldn’t seem to find the motivation to write any articles. This Walk was just what I needed because it gave me something to want to write about. If you’d like to see all of the pictures I took, you can find them here on our Facebook page. If you would like to donate, you can do so here on our Alzheimer’s Association Walk To End Alzheimer’s page.
Next year we’re going to try to recruit a bigger team. Why don’t you form a team where you live? These walks are going on all around the country.
A Moment of Clarity
On Thanksgiving day Gladys began the last days of her life. We were only able to wake her up twice during the day. On Thanksgiving night when Anita and I were getting her ready for bed, Gladys had a moment of clarity. There was something in her gaze and voice that I had not seen or heard for quite some time. While Anita and I were putting her in the sling for the Hoyer lift, Gladys looked at me and said, “What happened to me?” I said “You had a stroke.” She wanted to know when so I told her five years ago. She looked at the lift with fear in her eyes and asked what we were doing and I told her that it was the only way we could lift her to change her.
She Was Ready to Go Home
Gladys looked and us and said, “I don’t want to live like this.” Then she asked Jesus to take her home. Over the next two days – while asleep – she would call for Lessie (her mother), Margaret (her cousin) and Clifford (her husband). I called Hospice on Friday and they told me that Gladys was probably in her last days. After that I began to gather insurance papers and contact information for the crematory that I wanted to use.
On Sunday, the third day, while I was at church, my daughter sent me a text that she couldn’t wake Gladys at all. I cancelled our Sunday sitter who would normally relieve Anita at 10 AM and went home to care for Gladys myself. Around 6:30 PM I heard a loud choking cough. I went downstairs and Gladys had gone; she died peacefully in her sleep. I called Hospice, they sent a nurse out to pronounce her and call the funeral home.
At the end of the week, my oldest daughter, Nichole who took care of Gladys for 2-1/2 years flew in from Philly and we had a private memorial service. After the service, we went to Roy’s Cheese Steak Restaurant to enjoy Gladys’ favorite meal – cheese steaks and a Coke.
Gladys Lucille Belyeu Rooney was born in Alexander City, Alabama. Her family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when she was a toddler. She was educated in the Philadelphia school system and graduated from West Philadelphia High School.
Gladys accepted Christ at an early age at the Church of the Living God in Philadelphia. As an adult she was very active in church and served as a trustee for many years. She was a devout Christian, praising, praying and thanking God daily even after Alzheimer’s had taken over her memory.
After many years of friendship and courtship Gladys married the love of her life, Clifford Rooney in 1963. Their relationship lasted from 1949 until his death in 1992.
After receiving her cosmetology license, Gladys moved to Detroit to work as a beautician in her cousin’s hair salon. She moved back to Philadelphia a few years later and opened her own salon, Gladys’ Glamour Corner. She ran a successful beauty business for more than twenty years until the salon closed in the early 1970’s. After her salon closed, Gladys worked for the state of Pennsylvania as a House Parent in a boys’ correctional facility until she retired.
Gladys loved life, loved to travel and loved to eat. She also loved animals and had an uncanny ability to train dogs. She was a generous person who would help anyone in need.
Gladys peacefully departed this life, in her sleep, at home in Georgia on Sunday evening, November 28, 2010.