Today I am sharing with you a moving letter I received from a friend.
As most of you know, I just came back from a long leave that I spent in Bulgaria. A few of you also know that the main purpose of the trip was to be with my 84 year old grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
Since Grandma raised me, I always looked up to her and thought of her as my anchor in life. Grandma was very good at both making me laugh to the point of crying and getting me out of my skin to the point of screaming. She argued with people on the bus about politics, fed all the stray dogs in the neighborhood and walked so fast that I had to take two steps for every one of hers. She taught me that there is no shame in any work as long as it’s legal, and that boys shouldn’t be taken seriously because all they do is create hassle. That’s how she was – vibrant, hilarious, strong, unstoppable. I went back home hoping to spend Grandma’s last moments of clarity by her side and to hold her hand, as she used to hold mine through hard moments.
The disease however had its own plans. Alzheimer’s, I strongly believe, is the most relentless, cruel, heart-breaking disease. It takes its victims and strips them from all memories, dignity, even emotions. By the time I got home, Alzheimer’s had turned my vibrant, loud, funny Grandma into a shadow of a person. She had forgotten how to walk. When I tried to hold her hand, she withdrew hers because in her eyes, I was a stranger. In the rare moments when she remembered me as her granddaughter, she wasn’t capable of expressing thoughts or emotions. And I couldn’t do anything to help…
Grandma’s name is Nadezhda, which in Bulgarian means Hope. And while there is no hope for Grandma, I am comforted by the thought that she lived many healthy years. However, there are millions of people (about 5 million Americans) who are living with Alzheimer’s and many of them are in their fifties and sixties. In addition, 78 million baby boomers are approaching the age of greatest risk for developing this fatal disease. And the scary fact is that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Yet.
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. This year, to support those affected by Alzheimer’s, I’m participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk® to raise funds and awareness to fight this disease, and funds I raise will go directly toward supporting their efforts.
Please Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support Alzheimer’s Association New York City Chapter.
With Gratitude and Love,
You can read more about the struggle to push forward in the direction of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in my post about Terry Pratchett’s fight with Alzheimer disease, and a post my fellow blogger published about President Ronald Regan’s fight with Alzheimer’s disease.