Today, I am participating in Alzheimer's Association The Longest Day™ and biking 86 miles (the weather permitting and God willing) to honor my mother.
My mom, Althea Hudzinski, is the second youngest of 10 children, all of which suffered from Alzheimer's disease (excluding one that died of Cancer). She is the sole survivor of her siblings — and what amazes me is that she was there for each and every one of them. Early on, she took her sister in to our home to take care of her. It was my first experience with Alzheimer's and the effect it has on entire families.
Now, my mom is facing this horrible disease. It is hard to see her slipping away each day. She was always a caregiver, working tirelessly to make sure everyone had what they needed, and now she needs us.
There are 12 of us in our family —11 girls and one boy — and my mom had enough love for us all. Yes, my mother deserves a "saint" award.
The love of her life, my dad, died at the age of 54, when there were still six of us kids at home. (I was only 11.) Mom kicked it into gear and took care of us all. We didn't have much, but I never knew that. With all that she gave of herself, I thought we were rich! I remember mom always giving to others — if she had what you needed, it was yours.
I have a letter my mom wrote to me one day after she had gotten lost going to a doctor's appointment. In the letter she said, "Please do not give up on me." As hard as it has been, I will not give up on her or stop fighting for a cure. With the same strength and compassion my mom showed to myself and others through the years, I want to support and honor her in her fight against this horrible disease. This is why I am participating in Alzheimer's Association The Longest Day™ .
I am very fortunate. With such a large family, we share in caring for mom. I do not know what I would do without my family; they are my support and my rock. Many members of my family have joined my team for The Longest Day, which we have named Babci's Prodigy. Babci means Grandmother in Polish. Many of our friends and neighbors called my mom Babci, as she is a grandmother to everyone.
Our family resides on the East and West Coast, but we are working as a unified team to raise money in honor of mom. My favorite saying is "If we all give a little, we will all have enough." Together, with others like us, we CAN make a difference.
Eighty-six miles is longer than I have ever biked before at one time, but I wanted to challenge myself to the limits, as mom has to challenge herself every day. Even though I will be biking alone, I am not alone on my journey as I know I have the support of friends and family. I know my mom will also be cheering me on. She has been a source of strength for me over the years and now I hope to be hers.
Wish me luck!
Julianne Pompeii is an Alzheimer's caregiver for her mother, Althea Hudzinski. Today, she is participating in Alzheimer's Association The Longest Day™ , a sunrise-to-sunset relay to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer's. Click here to follow Julianna and Team Babci's Prodigy during this 16-hour event.