Seldom if ever being one to shy away from beating a dead horse, this will be my last retrospective about Springfield, Missouri’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Behold, my ten favorite moments in the walk:
- The Entry. We got there at a time that I thought was early and there were hundreds already there. Some were setting up, some were hugging and others were soaking it in like I was. I knew it was going to go well!
- The rain. Just as host Ethan Forhetz started to speak a little, it started to rain. It wasn’t an annoying rain. It wasn’t even concerning. It was, it seemed to me, a little reminder from the Lord that He was still in charge and controls all of our destinies. From the moment it started until it stopped, a minutes or three, my focus changed. Thank you Lord.
- I completely forgot our walking route...and was fine with it. Even though I am a frequent attender of Cardinal’s games right down the street, I couldn’t remember the walk’s path. It took a couple minutes walking and I remembered it well. This reminds me a little of some fun events I have done over the last year. I am just a part-time caregiver these days and caregiver guilt rears its ugly head and the disease reminds me right in the middle of the fun where this hot mess is going… minus a cure.
- The anxiety. I care how things work out. I visualized this Utopian little scenario where my group, my support group group, and my friend Stacey’s group would all be there in neat little bundles and we could get one monster picture, toot sweet. The problem wasn’t anyone involved except for my own when it was a super challenge to get this picture. My expectations are often so rose-colored/perfection-requiring that anything less and I fall into a gooey puddle of despair. In the end, it worked out super awesome and better than I would have expected it. I am a work in progress…
- The melding of everyone. Seeing the sea of promise garden flowers was, as always, amazing, awe-inspiring and encouraging. Nobody could leave there and think they were alone in this struggle (although the thought forces its way in like a Black Friday shopper at the opening bell soon after). I know it isn’t popular, for some reason in culture today, but I was thrilled to see all of the wonderful corporate sponsors there too. Edward Jones, DairiConcepts, Cox Health, Maplewood, The Arbors, SRC, Visiting Angels and the rest were there and served the crowd. The gave us treats, water, goodies and hugs. Corporations may have their flaws in our society, but they are, by and large, good. There were little groups from businesses, from college organizations, from families. They made it clear: the battle is joined!
- The presenting of the promise garden flowers. Ethan did a great job holding back extreme emotions (for the most part) as he told the story of his mom, then told the stories of the people representing the flowers on the stage. It was super hard and I appreciate his yeoman’s work in the face of the personal situation this is to him. He introduced the youngest woman in Earth (27) to be officially diagnosed and he introduced the young woman who had lost 75% of her family to the disease. Every person in the crowd stopped yapping and gave air-hugs to these sweethearts. It was special to say the least. However, it will only endure if we keep praying for these ladies and the thousands there.
- We danced like nobody was watching. Southwest Baptist University and some more folks led us in dancing and Zumba and for a few minutes we all let our hair down. I need that. You need that.
- The emotion. Sometimes when you are in the thick of a hard season, you forget that you have emotions, especially if you are a man. Events like that remind you (me) that it is ok to cry because the situation warrants it. I get cold and sterile some days as I fight through the emotions of mom’s last few (unknown quantity of time-s). As I have mentioned before in quoting Ecclesiastes, there is a season for all of these emotions. God “made us this way” and we (I) should accept it and embrace emotions rather than fighting them and holding them in.
- The White Flower. It made a brief appearance on stage. We need a white flower (symbolizes that a person has survived). We at least need a real class of treatments that extends life. Hearing it mentioned reminded me anew.
- The end. The end was awesome. We saw the jillion flowers at the end of the walk, we found our’s (mine is on my desk perpetually being spun by my room fan), we loaded up our belongings and reentered reality. Such is the problem with moving back and forth from peaks to valleys to peaks again. God has blessed me with a newfound joy in the journey that I am thankful but probably is easy to mistake for something else. I trust Him and know that one way or another things will be just fine. Keep your head’s up, fellow travelers and cornbread diners. We will get there together!
Update: Mom was better yesterday. Not super zonked. No fever, if they checked again. Happe. (Happy…sorry…I like my niece’s version of the word!) The new normal has defied odds, but we can hope and pray for a long stretch of happe until a cure is found and she and the Sweet 17 are saved… just in the nick of time.