Sunday, September 18, 2011

Walk to End Alzheimer's

This is a long post, but probably the most meaningful post I have ever written. I teared up numerous times writing this post and it means a great deal to me if you would take the time to read it. This post is very dear to my heart.

If this post jumps around a little, I apologize. I was writing straight from my heart....

On Saturday, October 15th, I am walking in the Walk to End Alzheimer's in Athens, Georgia. This walk benefits The Alzheimer's Association. I am walking in honor of my Nana, who passed away in May from Alzheimer's, as well as my Meme, who is in the final stages of Alzheimer's/Dementia. This organization means a great deal to me as I have watched my only two grandmother's suffer from this horrible disease, at the same time. They both started getting sick around the same time and it has probably been one of the hardest things to watch. Knowing they will never be the same again, is very hard to grasp. We though we would lose my Meme first, but it ended up being Nana.

My Nana was one of the sweetest people I have ever known. She raise 6 boys. SIX. Yes, I said six. Any woman that raises 6 boys is a saint. I know she loved every second of it too. I love hearing my dad and my uncle's talk about stories from when they were little. Nana's house was one where all the kids in the neighborhood gathered. I can just picture her feeding all the neighborhood kids. She was so loved by her family, friends, church, and neighbors. Everyone in her town knew who she was, as well as all the "Alfano boys".
She LOVED us grandchildren more than anything. She was ALWAYS in the kitchen cooking something. Spaghetti, Lasagna, Pastina, Salad, rolls, etc. From the time she got up, to the time she went to bed, she was in the kitchen cooking for her family. She had such a servant's heart. When my Poppy was still alive, her one purpose was to take care of him. After she died, we found lots of scrapbooks, pictures, and notes she had written him over the years. While he was alive, and after he passed away. She was never the same after he left her to be with Jesus. She mourned his death from the day he died, until the day she died. This might sound weird, but I was so happy when she passed, because I knew she was with her love again. She loved him SO much. I could just picture Poppy sitting with Jesus waiting for Nana to come home. I just know they are having so much fun up there dancing together. As hard as it was to lose her, I was so happy for her. She was with Poppy again!!! I can only hope to love my husband the way she loved him. When she started getting sick, it was so hard to watch. She was the rock of our family. It was like a piece of our family was missing. We knew something was wrong when she could no longer cook. When she moved out of her house into the nursing home, a little piece of my heart broke. That was the house my dad grew up in, and the house we had spent so many nights with her and Poppy. The last time I talked to her was a few weeks before she passed. Dad and I had gone to see her at the nursing home and she was so happy to see us. She kept saying how beautiful I was and smiling at me. She might not of known what my name was but she knew I was one of her "girls" (there are 15 grandchildren, 10 girls, 5 boys). I am so glad I got that time with her before she went home to Heaven. When she left this earth to be with Jesus, my life changed. I piece of my heart is in Heaven with her and Poppy, and thats where it will stay until I see them again.

Poppy, Nana, and ME! :)

And now on to my Meme. I get my anxiety and worrying from my Meme. Meme always worried about us. If we scraped a knee, she would freak out. If we bumped our head, she would freak out! I am certain that I get my bad habit of worrying from her. Most of you know, I am living with my Granddaddy right now. I took Meme's old room. It was VERY bittersweet moving into her room. I was so excited to be there and have the master bedroom, but sad because I shouldn't be sleeping in that room, she should. Instead she is in a nursing home, battling Dementia. Meme got sick quicker (in my eyes) than Nana. This terrible disease affected them differently, taking different parts of their brain. Meme's speech was taken, whereas Nana could still talk until her final days. I know deep down Meme recognizes me when she sees me. She might not know who I am but she knows I am someone she recognizes. I can see it in her eyes when she looks at me. She cries alot when we go see her and I know it is because she knows we are someone special to her. Meme was very feisty but had such a sweet heart. She would bend over backwards to help us. She loved when her children and grandchildren were under one roof. She loved coming to my cheerleading games and competitions when she could make it over to GA. I have vivid memories of her at the lake...drinking her coffee on the screened in porch in the mornings. She used to make us coffee when we were little in these special cups & we thought we were so cool. She used to take us shopping all the time, which was a huge treat. Meme's house had a distinct smell and everytime I smell something that reminds me of her house, it brings tears to my eyes. I do not go up to the nursing home alot, because I get teary-eyed everytime I go up there. It hurts me seeing her hurt. I hate it. I just want to make it better and I can't. I can't grasp that she is never going to be the same again. I know her time on earth is coming to an end, and that hurts. I know she will be in a better place, and she will be with her baby again (my uncle stu), but it still hurts knowing my time with her is limited. I loved walking around the house, seeing pictures of her everywhere. She is so beautiful! I also loved finding things in her room that were hers. How many people get to live in their grandmother's room? I am one lucky granddaughter! I love looking at her jewelry. Meme was always very well dressed. She loved jewelry and you always knew she was coming because you heard her bracelets or necklaces making noise. She always had her hair done, her nails painted, and her lipstick on. She loved her shoes too. I think she had nearly 100 pairs of shoes. I hope I am as fashionable as she was when I get older!!! This sounds silly but I know she would just DIE if she knew what she looked like in that nursing home. Haha. Good thing she doesn't! I am dreading the day she goes to be with Jesus. Even though it hurts, I know I need to make more of an effort to go to the nursing home to see her, because the time is coming when I will no longer be able to go visit.
I love you so much Meme!!!

Meme and I at one of my birthdays :)

I am walking for these two special people. Who I have watched suffer though this terrible, terrible disease. It is very hard to watch your grandmothers go through this at the same time. I hurt for my parents, who have been through so much. I cannot imagine watching my mom suffer through this disease, which is what they have both done. I beg my mom all the time not to get Alzheimer's when she gets older...I know that sounds so silly but I don't want to watch her go through what my Nana and Meme have been through.

I am raising money for my walk, which benefits the Alzheimer's Association. I would greatly appreciate ANY donations. No amount is TOO small. I set my goal for $100, but I would love to raise SO much more than that. I understand if you cannot contribute, I of all people know that money is tight, so if you can't, I am asking you to pray. Pray for all of the families affected by Alzheimer's/Dementia. It is so tough watching a loved one suffer through this disease. Pray for a cure....

Here is the link to my page if you would like to donate. My heart cannot thank you enough....
Click Here to help end Alzheimer's

Meme and Nana, I am walking to end Alzheimer's for YOU!!!!!!!! I love you both so much!

Thank you for taking the time to read this long post!

Happy Sunday :)


  1. Kathleen this is so sweet! I am praying!

  2. Beautiful post!
    I wish I could walk with you guys, I'll be working at the consignment sale that weekend.