Currently incurable, Alzheimer's – dementia – is on the rise, incapacitating its victims to the point of cruelty.
For me, Alzheimer’s has hit very close to home. My Mother who was born and raised in Greece and came to the US in her 20’s, has four sisters, all of whom remained in Greece. The first to suffer from this dreadful illness was my mother’s mom, my YiaYia. At the time, it was so hard for me to understand this disease. I remember playing with her skirt and singing. But when you’d ask her what she was doing she would say “I’m picking the corn from the field.” Other times, she was terrified if a loved one approached her – as they presented as complete strangers. To be terrified of your own grandchild…it’s an awfulness I’d wish on no one. It’s not fully comprehended how or why a person is afflicted with it. It’s also so hard to understand how someone could forget to eat or speak – second nature to us all. For a victim of Alzheimer’s, those simple tasks are impossible.
After my YiaYia, my mother’s oldest sister, Yoryia, developed the tell-tale signs. She suffered bravely for many, many years, but finally succumbed to the side effects of this disease with still so much life yet to live. Like a second mother to me, going back to see my Thea (aunt) would break my heart. The life had been sucked right from her.
It wasn’t long until we found her second sister also developed the disease. Passing away this past Thanksgiving, I will be forever grateful I got one last hug when we were in Greece last summer. This time, the symptoms took her pretty fast. Fortunately, she did not live in her own prison for very long. I will remember her as a strong, active, loving and caring person. She never forgot a face. It broke my heart as we were all together, taking a photo – as she couldn’t recollect who we were. I hope for a moment she knew we were there and that she was loved.
As if the cruelness needed another victim, our trip last summer also provided us the chance to see the third sister – striken with the illness, but considered a “happy victim.” She jokes around with an easy smile, but she has no idea who you are. Her behavior could be described as erratic and bizzare. My hope is that I will see her again and that she will still have that smile that I remember and that she will let me hug her again with all that love she has.
And finally, mom’s baby sister who is in her 60’s has been recently diagnosed with the disease. She knows she has it and it is taking the best of her. It breaks my heart to see her smile and then have this look in her eyes that seems to say “will I remember you again??” I just cannot wrap my head around why all the sisters have it and as of now my mother does not.
And I am not going to lie but I am terrified of myself possibly getting this horrible disease.
Which is why I am walking and praying they find a cure. I will not be getting tested since there is no cure. But I will help in any way to find the cure! If you would like to help me in my quest for knowledge and a cure, consider supporting my walk for a cure and donate to Team Pozios honoring my aunts and grandmother!