The Longest Day 2018
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Susan's Story
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Morehead City, North Carolina

Hello, I'd like to tell you about two very special people in my life. One was my mom, Eloise. She had never been sick a day in her life, devoted mom, wife and friend. She was full of life and oh, the personality!

When we first started noticing her memory loss, we thought it was just "old age." But soon we found it went way beyond that. She was 74 years young; sharp as a tack. Soon she began putting the dishrags in the freezer, she was afraid to go upstairs to use the bathroom, and forgetting names.

We watched her disappear a little more each day. Those of us that have been touched by this devastating disease knows what it does to families. Knowing your loved one is in there somewhere. My mom no longer had that special sparkle in her eyes and contagious laughter. Friends stopped coming by, and my three brothers forgot about her completely, leaving her care up to me and my older sister. Mainly my sister.

It took its toll on my sister. And at times, I would bring her to my home to give my sister a break, even though it might be for a day or two. Our brothers just couldn't handle seeing her this way. We would tell them that there are times that "momma" is "momma" again. You know, friends used to ask me what was harder: watching my mother-in-law slowly die from pancreatic cancer or my mom. I responded by saying,"It was easier watching my mother-in-law, not because she wasn't my mom, but at least with her illness you could see her health failing." It just tore my heart out looking into her eyes and knowing she had no clue who any of us were. What a year it was; all the memories lost.

My mom passed away on July 4, 2005 at the age of 82. We had a childhood friend preach at her service. He told so many stories and said that he knew that "Eloise" would have loved knowing she went out with a "BANG" because she was full of life. I had them play Josh Groban's. "You Raised Me Up" at her service because she was our strength.
Now my second special one, my husband of 19 years. Robin was diagnosed with MS 18 years ago and has been totally disabled from the disease since 1999. It has been a hardship on us both financially, physically and mentally. Difficult for our kids to watch a man so full of life, humor and talent become so weak, forgetful and argumentive.

Friends tell me all the time they don't know how I do it. I tell them I was raised in a time that you believe in your wedding vows. I have gone through the poorer, sickness and at times, I do want to run away. I'm no saint. I do get frustrated and take it out on him and the kids at times. I feel so alone since our so-called friends stopped calling us years ago because he can't go out on the boat, walk on the beach, or go for a swim in a pool because of his bladder.
Mentally he has become a child again. He gets scared if I'm not in his sight. He gets lost going to the bathroom at stores or to the buffet at restaurants he has been in a thousand times. It's like watching my mom all over again. Honestly, there are times I just get in the shower and cry or just sit my car. I do not let others see me cry. They see the upbeat strong Susan.

Alzheimer's has devastated me, my siblings and my children in ways no one can understand unless they dealt with this horrible, horrible, disease.


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.