The Meaning of Mother’s Day

By: Abby Walker

Patsy Walker. She was a wife, mother, grandmother and so much more. She taught me so much throughout my life.

I know her mainly through old home videos now, but I can still hear her laugh and say my name. She was the most curious and spunky lady I knew. She and Grandpa lived in Fort Myers, Florida and it was always a treat to go down and visit them. I remember getting up at five in the morning to do crossword puzzles with her, and then we’d jump in the pool for a morning swim. I would also sit in the basket on the back of her bike and go for rides with her. These are all great memories we made together, but then things began to change. They were small changes at first, like losing her keys or wandering down to her daughter’s house in the middle of the night. Eventually, my Dad (her son) made the conscious decision to place her in an assisted living facility here in Illinois. Assisted living turned out to be the wrong place for her, so we moved Grandma to a nursing home about 25 minutes from our house. She slowly began to forget who I was. She thought my mom was her daughter. Worst of all, she couldn’t remember who my dad was – the man who had done so much for her. I was only 10 or 11 at the time, and I didn’t really know much about Alzheimer’s disease.

We visited her all the time, especially during the holidays. The nursing home would host special family events on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving. The staff there were truly amazing. Around the age of seventeen, I began to develop a major interest in Alzheimer’s disease. At this point, my Grandpa (my mom’s dad) also had dementia.  Two people I loved dearly were living with this disease. I attended my first Walk to End Alzheimer’s in September of 2017 and one month later, the Monday before Thanksgiving, my Grandpa passed away.

It was only five months and three weeks later, and I still remember where I was. It was Mother’s Day 2018 and I was sitting in my room. I remember hearing my Mom ask my Dad who was on the phone, and he replied with “the nursing home.” And at that moment, we all knew she was gone. From that day forward, I wanted to devote my time and energy to the Alzheimer’s Association as a volunteer. I even presented a speech about the Alzheimer’s Association at a National Pageant this past June and won.

Grandma, thank you. Thank you for helping me to become the person I am today. Thank you for always trying new hairstyles on me and for painting my nails. Thank you for taking me bike riding and for showing me the joys of cloud watching. Thank you for catching me when I fell. Thank you for letting me do everything with you. Thank you for cuddling me on those cold Florida nights. Thank you for giving me my Dad. Thank you for your Bible. And most of all, thank you for holding my hand until the very end.

See you on the other side of the rainbow. I love you.

{In Rememberance of Patsy Walker. July 20, 1933 – May 13, 2018}

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