Waking on this World Alzheimer’s Day, I hear Momma mewling through the wall. A bed rail and a body pillow keep her tucked beside my father who still, by the grace of this morning, sleeps. It is 5:00 am. My husband cares for Momma while I begin the morning preparations. When two hours pass, I wake Dad gently – lifting the blinds a crack, letting in the slightest beam of day.
“Good morning Poppa. Medicine time.”
“Thank you Baby.” He swallows the pills down. “Thank you Honey. Thank you.”
“Go back to sleep for half an hour,” I encourage him. “I’ll wake you for breakfast.”
After the time passes, I go to him again.
“Rise and shine!”
I help him to dress, lead him to the table, and we drink coffee together, listen to opera tunes. By 8:30 am the white van arrives. I walk Dad to the door, watch him recede. He is off to The Tender.
Back at the top of the steps, I glance toward Momma now slumped in her chair. Her soft face is crumpled, oblivious.
The video above was created by a local company – Holman Automotive – to show their employees how the money they donate to the United Way is spent. My dad and I are featured in the first 2 minutes (then again towards the end) sharing our love for The Tender, his day program. The Tender receives partial operating support thanks to the United Way Impact Fund. But it’s not enough! Truly, I do not know how we would have made it through the last 3 years without The Tender. As Momma declines more rapidly than Dad, every new day of him witnessing her discomposure reopens a fresh wound in his memory. The Tender is a place where he finds respite from our daily heartache. It is a place where he can be fully himself. It is a place where he is loved, engaged, and supported. I want desperately, I need desperately for places like this to continue to exist. Thank you for being here with us and sharing in our story.